N2.28trillion deficit: BPE advocates privatisation of FG assets

• Says State enterprises gulp $3billion annually without returns

The Bureau of Public Enterprises has advised the Federal government to give consideration to the privatisation of federal government-owned Enterprises to fund the N10.33trillion 2020 budget, with a total deficit of N2.28trillion.

The Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises ( BPE), Alex Okoh gave the suggestion on Wednesday at a meeting with Senate Committee on Privatisation led by former Abia state governor, Theodore Orji.

Okoh decried a situation where the state-owned Enterprises take about $3bn from scarce public funds with meagre returns.

He noted that there was no justification for the ritual of yearly budget deficit with local and external borrowings when there were national assets that could be converted into liquid-asset for that purpose.

He said: “It is not good to keep borrowing on a yearly basis to finance deficit budget when a lot of very valuable national assets are lying fallow and moribund.

“Proceeds from outright privatization or concession of the moribund assets, should serve as the best alternative in funding yearly budget deficits since the assets are more or less, becoming national liabilities.”

While insisting that the nation has earned tremendous benefits from the privatisation of public assets, he specifically mentioned the National Theatre in Iganmu Lagos and the National Stadium in Surulere as part of the national assets that should have been given out to private investors.

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He said:” In the telecommunication sector alone, while Nigeria had 500,000 landlines and telephone subscribers in pre-year 2000, the subscribers base as at 2019 has grown to 150million.

“First Bank today is not the same it was while under government control. While not one single unprivatized state-owned enterprise is performing, many of the privatized ones are performing by providing the required liquidity in the Nation’s economy.”

He, however, expressed reservation over the privatisation of the power sector as he admitted that the process was flawed.

” We have huge problems concerning the privatization of the power sector as a result of policy misalignment in the sector.

“Analogically, the problem with the sector is like after surgery mismanagement which is, however, is critically addressed.

“As at today, installed capacity for power generation is 13, 500 megawatts from 2,600 megawatts it was in 2013 before the sector was privatised “.

He assured the Committee members that the N320billion expected as revenue from the agency to fund the 2020 budget will be realised by the second quarter of next year from proceeds to be made from some national assets slated for privatization.

In his remarks, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Theodore Orji ( PDP Abia Central), asked Okoh directed to furnish the committee with records of the agency 2019 budget performance ahead of consideration of the 2020 budgetary estimates for the agency by the committee.

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