Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has reacted to the Federal Government’s 0.6 per cent (N71.5 billion) slash in the 2020 budget as mere window dressing, Thecitypulsenwws reports.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC), on Wednesday, amended the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) and cut the 2020 budget by N71.5 billion. This has brought the budget from N10.594 trillion to N10.523 trillion.
But Atiku said it “is grossly insufficient and betrays the fact we have lost touch with the current realities in the global political economy.”
The former presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) noted that when the 2020 budget was presented to the National Assembly on October 8, 2019, it was predicated on a projection that the nation would generate crude oil production of 2.18 million barrels a day, at an expected oil price of $57 per barrel.
He, however, regretted that this was no longer the case, noting that both the production and the price of oil have been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to him, Saudi Arabia, with much stronger production capacity than Nigeria and with a larger global market share, as well as foreign reserves that is 12 times more than Nigeria, has slashed her budget by almost 30 per cent.
He stated that Nigeria that runs a mono-economy cannot make up for her loss of expected oil revenue by taking more loans and issuing out more bonds.
“Debt will be the death of our economy and bonds will put our people in bondage,” Atiku warned.
He advised that the best way out of the present economic quagmire is the reduction in expenditure.
“And a 0.6 per cent reduction is no reduction. It is only window dressing,” he said.
The former vice president said: “The billions budgeted for the travels and feeding of the president and vice president has to be reduced.
“The N27 billion budget for the renovation of the National Assembly has to go.
“The massive budget to run both the presidency and the legislature has to be downsized.
“The budget for purchasing luxury cars for the president, his vice, and other political office holders must be jettisoned.
“Leave the salaries of civil servants alone, but reduce the salaries of political appointees. Sell eight or nine of the jets in the Presidential Air Fleet.”
Atiku warned that any budget slash that is less than 25 per cent will not be in the interest of Nigeria.
He also advised that Nigeria should realign her budget so as to redirect expenditure away from running a massive bureaucracy, into social development sectors like education, infrastructure and healthcare.
“We must invest in the goose that lays the golden egg – the Nigerian people.
“These are the types of sacrifices that we need in a time of crisis. We do not need empty gestures that will lead to empty treasuries,” he said.