Economy

Budget Funding: Senate urges FG to reduce borrowing

The Senate has urged the Federal Government to seek alternative sources of funding the budget with a view to reducing borrowing.

The Senate said although borrowing is not entirely bad, the country must seek ways and means to develop alternative funding mechanism.

He insisted that the country should balance borrowing with diversification to meet its development goals.

Reducing borrowing, he said, will translate to less funds devoted to debt service.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, stated this as the Senate passed the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP).

Lawan said: “There are some projects that I feel we should ensure that we don’t borrow (to execute). We should explore other alternatives source of funding – the build, operate and transfer, public private partnerships and so many other options.

“I think we should explore those options. There are a lot of businesses that have interest in our infrastructural development. Then again, we cannot eliminate borrowing; that is the sad part of it.

“In the past, I think we deluded ourselves thinking that Nigeria is the richest country in the world meanwhile we were not developing our infrastructure because if we had applied whatever we had especially in good days and good years, we would have found out that we didn’t have any money to spare and call ourselves rich. There were much more challenges on the side of developing infrastructure than what we were getting.

“But we squandered those very good days that we realised that all our contemporaries then are now somewhere far away from us in terms of development.

“So we have to mix borrowing with diversification in going about meeting our development needs. The deficit of course is high and this is telling us the story of the history of our economic journey.

“We simply could not figure out the right things to do when we had plenty of money. We didn’t save for the raining day, now we have the very rainy days that an umbrella cannot stop the rain beating everyone.

“We need to look at the possibility of reducing borrowing in order to ensure that we don’t have so much deficit and end up spending so much revenue in servicing the debt.”

Lawan reiterated the position that the country should muster the political will to merge some agencies performing similar roles.

He said: “Whatever we say about the cost of governance will depend on how to merge different agencies. I think there is need for us to muster the political will. We know what to do but when it comes to doing the right thing we find it difficult.”

The MTEF/FSP was passed after the consideration of the report presented by the Chairman Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola and Chairman, Senate Committee on National and Economic Affairs, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi.

Before the joint committee arrived at its report, it invited 77 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to a public hearing for their input.

The committee said the fundamental objective of government in preparing a budget is to ensure that public funds are prioritised and optimally utilised so as to ensure the promotion of a planned and balanced economic development in the country.

It said budgets are important tools deployed by governments to drive economic policies in such a manner that ensures that the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen.

It noted that in its determination to arrive at a realistic MTEF and FSP for the next three years, the Committee considered the actual performance of the 2018-2020 Budgets of the invited MDAs and the previous MTEF/ FSP, the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), 2007 and several other relevant documents, including the specific Establishment Acts, that pertains to each of the invited MDAs.

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