• Politics
  • Updated: October 13, 2022

Nigerian Senators Question Budget Parameters For 2023

Nigerian Senators Question Budget Parameters For 2023

The Senate has begun deliberations on President Muhammadu Buhari's 2023 budget recommendations, which he delivered last Friday.

Many lawmakers who spoke in plenary on Wednesday expressed concern about increased recurrent expenditure and constant borrowing to support annual budgets.

The legislators also proposed strategies to increase revenue collection and raise additional funds to fund the budget.

The entire expenditure for the fiscal year 2023 is estimated to be N20.5 trillion, with non-debt recurring costs of N8.27 trillion, capital expenditure of N5.35 trillion, and government-owned enterprises spending of N2.42 trillion.

The National Assembly budget is allocated N744.11 billion in statutory transfers, N4.99 trillion in personnel costs, N854.8 billion in pensions, gratuities, and retiree benefits, and N1.11 trillion in overhead costs.

The debt service for the following year is estimated to be N6.31 trillion, with a sinking fund of N247.73 billion set aside to repay certain maturing notes.

During the debate, lawmakers took turns challenging the budget's parameters and proposing changes.

Borno Senator Ali Ndume bemoaned how recurring expenditure for annual budgets has been increasing, with 2023 set to be the highest at N8.2 trillion.

He stated that the country must focus on the capital side.

Ndume said that the recurrent expenditure in the 2023 budget proposal is almost 43% of the total budget, which should not be accepted.

“We cannot continue to borrow money to fund 1% of the population,” he said.

“We need to launch an investigation into why the recurrent expenditure is going up instead of coming down – especially at a time when technology is the thing.”

Similarly, Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers) stated that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) is dishonest and should be examined.

She added that there have been reports of TSA leaks that should be investigated.

"The TSA must be evaluated. All forms of leakage must be cut and shut down. We need to reduce expenditures while increasing revenue", she said.

Wealthy Nigerians possessing inactive cash in their bank accounts, according to Smart Adeyemi (APC, Kogi West), should lend them to the country.

Adeyemi conveyed all seriousness when he stated that some banks have money - foreign currency - of some Nigerians sitting dormant in their accounts.

“The security should find them…and ask them for it. They are there in the banks. Fixed deposits. We need to ask them for the money…”

He also emphasised the importance of diversification for the country, cautioning against importing iron and steel when Nigeria has an unfinished steel complex that may generate revenue.

He also stated that rather than importing crude oil, the government could reactivate idle refineries.

Senators Abba Moro (PDP, Benue) and Ibikunle Amosun (APC, Ogun) discussed increasing education funding and investing more in infrastructure, respectively.

Ahmad Lawan, the Senate President, agreed that the government needs to reduce the deficit, stop leaks, and find ways to save money.

He also advised the administration to restrict the number of initiatives shelved.

Lawan further encouraged committees to thoroughly examine Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) during budget defence hearings to determine how the 2022 budget allocations were executed.

He asked MDAs to honour their invites and present before the panels with appropriate documentation to assist the committees in making informed choices.

Following the second reading and passage of the appropriations bill, lawmakers adjourned the plenary until November 15 to allow committees to conduct budget defence sessions.

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