N6.9trn 2017 budget projection unrealistic —Chairman, House committee

THE N6.886 trillion budget being proposed for 2017 by President Muhammadu Buhari has been described as grossly unrealistic, in view of current economic realities.

Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Parliamentary Budget and Research, Golu Timothy, disclosed this on Wednesday, adding that with an oil price projection of $42.5 per barrel and militancy in Niger Delta, reducing crude exploration to one million barrels per day, the Federal Government may not be able to source enough funds to finance the proposed budget.

“The executive ought to approach the legislature in a manner that says: I want us to see this thing together. Is it feasible to achieve a N6.9 trillion budget? We would have told them it is not feasible. What are the sources of financing?

“We have a committee on Legislative Budget and Research which does the analysis and then hand it over to the committee on Finance. The Committee on Finance sits and analyse the projections, whether it is realistic to obtain half of that money from the sale of 2.2 million barrels of crude a day at $38/barrel. Note that 2.2 million barrels per day projection has been halved due to activities of militants. Wishes are not horses, otherwise, we would have wished for five million barrels’ production per day.

“As it is now, the crisis in the Niger Delta will not allow that. Throughout the tenure of the late President [Musa] Yar’Adua and President [Gooluck] Jonathan and even during the President [Olusegun] Obasanjo’s time, the crisis was there. The budget is for a period of 12 months and so no magic will settle the crisis, especially when the economy has not been diversified,” he said.

Even at that, he lamented that in the N6.9 trillion proposed budget, agriculture and solid minerals, two sectors said to be major areas of diversification, in view of the crude oil situation, were neglected.

“The total budget of N6.9 trillion has only one per cent dedicated to agriculture; one per cent to solid minerals which is more lucrative than even the oil sector.

“If past governments failed because of lack of planning and lack of right policies, this government must adopt a realistic change mechanism so as not to follow the path of failure,” he said.

On special powers being sought by the President to deal with current recession, Timothy said there were already enough legislations to deal with any emerging situation.