2020 Budget has suffered $14 billion revenue loss, Senate President raises the alarm

The 2020 budget has since suffered about $14 billion revenue gap. President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan made the disclosure on Tuesday in his opening remarks at the resumption of federal lawmakers from their annual recess.

Nigerian Tribune checks revealed that the 2020 budget already in the last quarter of the year with a total estimate of N10.33 trillion has a revenue projection of N8.15 trillion.

Senator Lawan attributed the dismal performance to the disruptions in both local and international economic activities occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.

He noted that all hands must be on deck to move the nation’s economy from its mono-cultural status of dependence on crude oil earnings.

He said: “The COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted our budgetary plans, requiring the review of the 2020 Budget. We must carry out oversights to ensure that the revised 2020 Budget is properly implemented. The oversights are even more imperative as the Revised 2020 Budget is targeted at addressing the specific challenges occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Senate needs to pay particular attention to the implementation of the Federal Government Economic Sustainability Plan. This strategic plan is an essential means of revamping our economy, as it provides interventions in the mass agricultural programme, infrastructure, mass housing programme, investments in healthcare infrastructure, amongst others.

“We were confronted with an over $14 billion revenue gap and the grim reality of an unwholesome overdependence on oil. We cannot overemphasize the need to focus on other important sectors like agriculture, solid minerals, and steel development and manufacturing, with a view to diversifying our economy. We need to work with relevant stakeholders to prevent our economy from going into a recession, stimulate the economy, save and create more jobs through a sustainable multiplier effect.”

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Ahead of the presentation of the 2021 Budget to the National Assembly by the Executive, President of the Senate revealed that one month would be set aside for the ministries, departments and agencies to defend their budget estimate for the New Year.

He recalled that in line with its commitment to ensuring that the nation sustains the January -December budget cycle, the Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning engaged the  Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning on the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTF/FSP) during the lawmakers’ annual recess.

According to him, “The Committee equally interacted with over 300 MDAs over the issues of revenue generation and remittances to the Federal Government.”

Senator Lawan cautioned the MDAs not to exceed the one-month window for the defence of their respective budget.

“Distinguished colleagues, the Senate will provide a one month window for budget defence by ministries, departments and agencies. Like last year, the month of October 2020 will be dedicated to this exercise. Subsequent months of November and December will be dedicated to the internal processing of the Budget by NASS. The various MDAs are therefore advised to ensure that they avail themselves the opportunity of the Budget defence window to appear with all the relevant and necessary information to defend their Budget Estimates.”

The President of the Senate who enunciated the pressing legislative assignment before the Senate to include, the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, amendment of the 1999 Constitution, the passage of the 2020 Budget, however, commended them for the landmark achievements before they proceeded on annual recess.

“Distinguished colleagues, this Senate has recorded some achievements in the preceding year. These achievements can be attributed to the bi-partisanship, patriotism, unity of purpose and our commitment to the Nigerian people. I commend us all for being a Senate that focuses on the national interests and working for Nigeria.

“I am sure we are all determined to continue on this path of serving our people.”

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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