Daily Trust

2021 budget: Fireworks in Senate over rising deficit, borrowing

- By Abdullatee­f Salau

Senators engaged in a heated debate yesterday on the 2021 Appropriat­ion Bill presented by President Muhammadu Buhari for considerat­ion and approval.

The lawmakers argued along party lines. While the opposition lawmakers picked holes in the N13.08trn budget estimate; APC senators were optimistic about its workabilit­y.

The fiscal document has a total revenue projection of N7.88trn with a deficit of N5.20trn.

Senate Leader Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi) said a budget deficit of this size, requiring more indebtedne­ss, was not healthy for the long-term developmen­t of the country.

He, however, said this must be tolerated now because of the challenges of the times.

Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe said the budget proposal read like a template from yesteryear­s; just with different numbers.

He said the budget did not reflect an understand­ing that the world had changed and that the nation’s problems had intensifie­d.

Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger) faulted Abaribe’s submission, saying he was merely playing to the gallery of the opposition.

He said: “We knew we were in recession in 2016, for us to have walked ourselves back alluded to good management of scarce resources.”

Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue) said the executive was literally violating the nation’s laws because the deficit had gone beyond 3 percent.

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