▪︎ Blames revenue loss on inefficiency of revenue agencies
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has asked the Executive to implement the Economic Sustainability Plan approved by the National Assembly so as to strengthen the economy in view of the resultant impact occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic.
Lawan gave the charge on Thursday in a welcome address delivered during the presentation of the 2021 budget estimates by President Muhammadu Buhari at a joint session of the National Assembly.
According to the Senate President, there is the urgent need by government to sustain programmes aimed at economic diversification, not only because of the unpredictable nature of oil revenue, but due to recent uncertainties arising from the coronavirus.
He added that sufficient injection of funds into such programmes would give a boost to the nation’s economy.
“Mr. President, the implementation of the 2020 Budget has shown a remarkable improvement over the previous years.
“Certainly, the injection of funds for the various programmes and projects had helped our economy. We expect that before the end of this fiscal year, the 2020 Budget would have been implemented 100 percent. This will be a historic feat.
“The impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic is a global affliction that every country needs to address through various measures.
“The National Assembly approved the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), a Plan of the Federal Government, to address the economic challenges of today.
“All efforts should be made to implement the plan, as a number of schemes are designed to keep our Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) afloat.
“Mr. President, it is our hope that the 2021 Budget will be targeted at consolidation of gains made by the 2020 Budget. The 2020 Budget was targeted at sustaining growth and jobs. We need to not only protect jobs but create more.
“The COVID-19 Pandemic has revealed the ultimate vulnerability of our economy, as a monolithic, oil dependent economy.
“The sudden crash in the price of crude in the world market, and the consequent impact on our economy, should spur us into genuine search for the diversification of our economy, for other revenue sources.”
The Senate President while pledging the National Assembly’s readiness to pass the 2021 budget before the end of the year, said doing so “will continue to enable planning and enhance productivity and efficiency in the management and application of our resources.”
He however lamented that the Federal Government had resorted to borrowing to fund critical projects in the budget due to inadequate revenue at its disposal.
Lawan blamed government’s low revenue profile owing to leakages on the inefficiency of revenue generating agencies.
“Mr. President, as our revenues plummeted, we have resorted to borrowing to fund the development of some critical infrastructure.
“Our revenue generation, collection and remittances need to be critically examined. Recent interactions between our Committees on Finance and National Planning and Economic Matters, with over 200 revenue generating and collection agencies have revealed so much inefficiencies in their systems.
“It was revealed that government loses so much money as a result. Similarly, there are so much leakages of moneys that could have easily been available for national development.”
“Due to inadequate revenue, government has to borrow in order to finance its projects. It is equally important that we should diversify our sources of funding of our programmes and projects.
“We need to encourage and promote more private sector participation in developing some of our physical infrastructure.
“We could explore the Public Private Partnership (PPP), Build Operate Transfer (BOT), and many other funding options. This is with a view to reducing our level of borrowing,” the Senate President advised.
Meanwhile, the Senate will on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, debate the Petroleum Industry Bill forwarded by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly last week.
The disclosure was made in an announcement by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, moments before the upper chamber adjourned plenary on Thursday.
According to Lawan, early debate on the bill is expected to avert any delay in consideration, resulting from the upper chamber’s decision to suspend plenary for one month to enable Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government defend their respective budgets for the year 2021.
Lawan added that the critical piece of legislation, after the debate on the floor by lawmakers, would then pass for second reading and be referred to the Joint Committees on Petroleum; and Gas for further legislative work.
“For the PIB, we need to get the document to our Joint Committee before we suspend plenary, otherwise, the document will remain unattended to throughout the time that we would be handling the budget; and that means we can only come back to it around November or December, and that would be late.
“Everybody is waiting for the PIB to be attended to, but we will take sufficient time to work on it because it is a very sensitive document.
“Nevertheless, we should take the debate and Second Reading of the PIB by the upper week, Tuesday 20th, 2020, and refer the document to our Joint Committees on Petroleum (Upstream and Downstream); and Gas.
“So, while we are working on the budget, they can keep work on the PIB warm. We are not going to rush on it since we have the budget before us.
“Our Joint Committee must do everything possible for us to have a document or report that we would work with in the Senate and something that Nigerians and investors will be happy with,” the Senate President said.
Implement Economic Plan approved by N’Assembly, Lawan tells Executive; Senate to debate PIB October 20
▪︎ Blames revenue loss on inefficiency of revenue agencies