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Senate, FG disagree on 2017 budget releases


The Federal Government and Senate, on Tuesday, disagreed over the plans to release some amount out of the N2.177 trillion capital vote in the 2017 budget and roll the remaining over till 2018.

The revelation was made known when the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and the Budget and National Planning counterpart, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, appeared before the Senate Joint Committee on Finance and Appropriation.Udoma

The session was conducted by chairmen of committees on appropriation and finance, Senator Danjuma Goje and Senator John Enoh, respectively.

Both the ministers unanimously disclosed that at present, the government could only release N440 billion of the total N2.117 trillion budgeted for 2017 capital vote.

Udoma said government lacked adequate funding for the budget, adding that this week, the government intended to release over N100 billion, plus the N340 billion earlier released for capital in the 2017 budget.

The ministers said it would be difficult for the government to meet obligations in the capital budget, adding that there was N2.3 trillion deficit in the 2017 capital budget.

Adeosun said the 2017 budget was projected mainly on external borrowing, adding that making further capital releases would depend on how fast the government could push the borrowing process.

She told the lawmakers that domestic borrowing would not be enough to fund the gaps in the budget, stressing that the cost of domestic borrowing was getting too high.

She, however, said borrowing from foreign sources was cheaper than domestic borrowing, adding that even if the funds were to be available, the government could not release the entire N2.177 trillion capital vote within the three months left in the year.

The ministers said about 60 percent of the 2017 capital budget would be rolled over to the 2018 budget, just as that of 2016 was similarly rolled over till May 2017.

Not satisfied with the gap in the capital budget and the actual amount to be released, the senators warned that the trend could cause injury to the economy.

The lawmakers disclosed that economy of the Brazil had suffered recession for eight consecutive quarters but came out of it with 2.46 inflation rate and 10 percent misery rate, but challenged the two ministers to explain why the Nigerian economy, which suffered recession for five consecutive quarters, would come out with 16.5 percent inflation rate and over 50 percent misery rate.

Replying, Adeosun said the difference was in the better infrastructure that was obtainable in Brazil, saying the South American country enjoyed 24-hour electricity supply.

Chairman of the appropriation committee, Senator Goje, said if the trend of poor releases continued, the masses would suffer, adding that it was not good to raise hopes of Nigerians and thereafter dash them.

“In implementing the January-December fiscal system, we should be careful not to sacrifice half of the 2017 budget,” he said.

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