The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Sunday urged the National Assembly to urgently review the 2021 Appropriation Act to stop President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration from selling public assets to fund the 2021 budget.
In a statement signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP urged the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to identify areas in the budget to cut “salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly and the presidency in order to address the growing deficit and borrowing.”
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had last week confirmed that the Federal Government would sell some-government-owned properties to fund the 2021 budget.
The statement read: “The National Assembly has a constitutional and oversight responsibility to protect valuable public properties and to ensure a responsible budget spending. Allowing the government to sell public properties, and to enjoy almost absolute discretion to borrow to fund the 2021 budget would amount to a fundamental breach of constitutional and fiduciary duties.
“Selling valuable public properties to fund the 2021 budget would be counter-productive, as this would be vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. It would undermine the social contract with Nigerians, leave the government worse off, and hurt the country in the long run. It is neither necessary nor in the public interest.
“The country’s fiscal situation must be changed – and changed quickly – through some combination of cuts in spending on salaries and allowances, and a freeze on spending in certain areas of the budget such as hardship and furniture allowances, entertainment allowances, international travels, and buying of motor vehicles and utilities for members and the presidency.
“The time is now for the leadership of the National Assembly to stand up for the Nigerian people, stop the rush to sell public properties, push for a responsible budget, and support efforts to have the government spends responsibly.
“Other areas to propose cutting include: constituency allowance, wardrobe allowance, recess allowance, and entertainment allowance.
“SERAP urges the National Assembly to promptly work with the Presidency to fix the current damaging budgeting process and address systemic corruption in Ministries, Departments and Agencies [MDAs]. Tackling corruption in MDAs, and cutting waste and salaries and allowances of high-ranking public officials would go a long in addressing the budget deficit and debt problems.
“SERAP also urges the National Assembly to stop approving loan requests by the Federal Government if it continues to fail to demonstrate transparency and accountability in the spending of the loans so far obtained.”
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