By Haruna Salami
One of the striking features of the 2024 federal budget presented to the joint session of the National Assembly by President Bola Tinubu is the deficit totaling N9.18 trillion.
To finance the deficit, the government is to engage in new borrowings totaling 7.83 trillion nairas, 294.49 billion nairas from privatization proceeds, and 1.06 trillion naira drawdowns on bilateral/multilateral loans secured for specific development projects/ programmes.
Already there is a growing concern over continued borrowing, but the government resorts to it to finance fiscal gaps, saying the debt level of the Federal Government is still “within sustainable limits”.
However, on the second allotted day for the discussion of the general principles of the 2024 budget, Senator Austin Akobundun (Abia Central) revealed that the nation can fund the budget without borrowing.
On the issue of budget financing, he said “I know every nation borrows money, but allow me to say we can fund this budget without borrowing through reinvigorating our strategy on internally generated revenues by ensuring that key enablers and drivers of revenue generation like Customs “must deploy enhanced technology and automation”.
“A few days ago, I joined the Finance Committee and I was impressed by the level and quality of engagement of members of that committee led by the chairman with the agencies saddled with the responsibility of internally generated revenues.
Senator Akobundun who agreed with the priorities set in the budget by President Bola Tinubu in security, education, poverty reduction, job creation, etc however was worried by the ratio of recurrent expenditure against the capital as well as debt servicing outlay.
The retired Colonel thanked President Bola Tinubu for prioritizing security, although he would not like to talk about the strategy and the tactics, but commended and recommended that greater emphasis should be paid and placed on intelligence gathering.