By Haruna Salami
President Bola Tinubu has presented 2024 budget of N27.5 trillion to a joint session of the National Assembly with security, job creation, poverty reduction top priorities.
Addressing a joint session of the National Assembly on the 2024 Federal budget proposal on Wednesday in Abuja, President Tinubu said the nation’s internal security architecture will be overhauled to enhance law enforcement capabilities with a view to safeguarding lives, property, and investments across the country.
Highlights of the budget is the allocation of over N8 trillion for capital expenditure and reduction in debt servicing.
Meanwhile, reactions have trailed the 2024 budget by some lawmakers.
Senator Sani Musa, chairman Senate Committee on Finance said “we never had it so good in budget presentation where the capital expenditure has been raised to about N8 trillion and though the deficit has increased, the debt servicing has reduced.
“We are looking at making the dollar 750 naira instead of 700, which means we are going to get more revenue from that. The crude oil price has been increased from 73 to 75 dollars, which is good.
“In a nutshell, you can see that the budget is different from the previous ones that we have had where the debt servicing is far more than the capital budget. Now the capital budget has been raised to N8 trillion, which is unprecedented. I believe this budget will handle the renewed hope of Nigerians.
Some of the differences between the 2024 budget and the previous ones, according to him are the debt servicing which will increase taxation and looking at the government enterprises that are performing to be commercialized or privatized for government to make more money leading to “efficiency”.
To stop most of the leakages witnessed, Sani said “Customs now is trying to modernize . There is this e-Customs platform that they are going to work and taxes will be collected centrally. “If we do that, I think a lot of loopholes that have become pipe drain for abuse will be blocked. This is the best time that Nigerians should be hopeful”.
According to Senator Jimoh Ibrahim (Ondo South) “we now have a budget of N9.7 trillion recurrent expenditure and we have N8.7 trillion capital expenditure, which he described as “fantastic”, adding that “for the first time it is not all budgeting for salary”.
“You see, it is beyond the 30 per cent benchmark in the last 10 years of having a budget of 25 per cent capital project and the remaining for recurrent expenditure. Now they are very close; you have the recurrent expenditure and capital project very close.
“The 45 per cent debt services, that is not bad, except that we are borrowing more. Remember, last year, debt to GDP was about 6 per cent. now, debt to GDP is about 3 per cent. Now, we have a deficit financing of about N8.7 trillion and we are going to fund that from external borrowing. It is a fair budget and it is on infrastructure development.
“There are 11,846 abandoned Federal Government mega project in Nigeria. Is that not worrisome? Above all, averagely, it is a very fair budget, except that we have to look at the area of funding, the area of borrowing.
“Now we are borrowing N8.7 trillion dollars, that is not too much of borrowing for 250 million people. What Nigeria is owing is less than 100 billion dollars, and debt to GDP is about 30 per cent meaning; that we can still borrow 70 per cent value of our GDP.
Senator Aliyu Wadada (Nasarawa West) said the budget circle of January to December is still possible despite the late presentation by the president if all hands are on deck.
According to him, the feat cannot be achieved without the chief executives of ministries, agencies and departments (MDAs) appearing as ta when due. “I expected the leadership of the National Assembly to have emphasized it to the president to be assertive on his ministers heads of MDAs to make themselves available during budget consideration, which he described as a “serious business”.