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2020 budget scales second reading in Senate

Senate-President-Ahmad-Lawan

The 2020 Appropriation Bill submitted to the National Assembly last week by President Muhammadu Buhari scaled second reading on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.

A statement issued by the Special Assistant to the Senate President on Press, Ezrel Tabiowo, said the upper chamber has subsequently adjourned plenary till November 29 to enable Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of government defend their respective budget proposals before the Committees of the Senate.

The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, in his concluding remark during the last day of debate on the 2020 budget estimates, identified revenue generation as a major challenge of the budget.
According to him, the successful implementation of the budget may be difficult to realise until proactive measures are taken to address the situation.

He said: “We are seriously challenged in the area of generating revenues, and it appears that until something drastic is done, this shortage of revenue will continue to militate against the implementation of the budget.

“We have to continuously engage the revenue-generating agencies and schedule quarterly evaluation to be handled by our relevant committee, particularly the Senate Committee on Finance.
“We need to look at how we can enhance capital allocation. The shortage of funds will militate against that.

“We have a serious challenge when only 30 percent is devoted to the capital budget, but that is an improvement from what we inherited from 2014 when the allocation was 15 percent. But that is not to say we cannot do better.

On recurrent expenditure, the Senate President added: “We have so many agencies of government, over 600 of them and we have to pay.

“Probably, we need to look at how we can streamline the agencies; that is not to say that we will lay off workers, but we must establish the functionality and usefulness of these agencies.
“We also need to look at the direction of Public-Private- Partnership, especially in the laying of physical infrastructure. We can concession our roads, instead of taking money from China.

Lawan, while advocating for a knowledge-based economy, appealed to the Federal Government to create an environment that would create jobs for the youths.

Speaking on investments, he said: “We cannot realistically attract even domestic investments in any sector without security; not to mention direct foreign investments into our country.”

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