Sen. Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia South) on Wednesday in Abuja, berated the 2016 budget and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw it and go back to the drawing board. Abaribe while making contributions during the consideration of the budget, said the proposal was faulty on many grounds and could not be implemented at it was.
He said that predication of oil benchmark at 38 dollars per barrel when the crude oil price had fallen below 30 dollars per barrel made the budget unrealistic. Abaribe faulted the government for increasing spending by 30 per cent based on borrowing.
“Mr President, my colleagues, this budget is indeed unique. After the budget presentation, the finance minister has never come to explain the details of the budget as it is normally done.
“It is a budget of change I agree, but it is a change in the wrong direction. I say it is a change in the wrong direction because it says that it is based on zero budgeting requiring all expenses to be fully justified.
“Mr President, a budget that increases spending up to 30 per cent based solely on borrowing, in what way are we justified? That is the question we want to ask the people who brought this budget.
“We know what is going on in the global economy: this budget is predicated on an oil benchmark of 38 dollars per barrel and I can now say that with oil being 28 dollars today, this budget is dead on arrival.
“The job of the opposition is to help the government to get its priorities right, so I want to please urge this government to withdraw this budget and go back to the drawing board,” he said.
The senator also faulted the adjustments made in the budget as well as allocation for spending in the Aso Rock Villa, saying that it was too exhorbitant. He said that the adjustments rather than reduce spending in areas where they were not necessary only spread it into different offices.
“Mr President, a budget that moves domestic spending within Aso Villa from N580 million to N1.7 billion cannot be a budget of change. We were told that in the revised budget there was an adjustment due to error, we agree but what has happened is that up to N7 billion were moved from buying vehicles and spread to offices.”
“It also increased the spending that is due to renovations within the Villa. They are going to renovate the Villa with N3.9 billion: what else do you want to renovate there that Nigerians will see in the Year 2016?” he asked.
However, in his contribution, Sen. Ahmed Lawan (APC Yobe North) blamed the previous administration for the lack of funds due to the embezzlement witnessed in previous governments. He said that this was the 17th budget he would be debating as a legislator and noted that not more than 40 per cent implementation was achieved in the last 16 years.
“The proposal before us is the first budget where the executive has deemed it necessary to give ordinary Nigerians genuine hope. N500 billion allocated for school feeding and social SAFTEY NET is commendable. It is time to say oil should not continue to play dominant role as we have suffered economically and politically: it is time to diversify this economy.
“The direction of the executive is the way to go. `That is, we should make every effort to have the real sector-agric mining and manufacturing. The budget deserves the support of everyone, including my colleagues on the other side. When we were in the opposition we supported the PDP, they should support us,” he said.