By Tordue Salem – Abuja
The House of Representatives on Tuesday, pressed for a substantial hike in the allocation to capital projects in the N13.082 trillion 2021 budget, before the National Assembly.
The 2021 budget presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari last week shows that out of the proposed N13.08 trillion expenditure, non-debt recurrent costs is allocated N5.65 trillion and overhead cost of N625.50 billion while an aggregate sum of N3.85 trillion is proposed for capital projects.
But members of the House of Representatives during debate on general principles of the 2021 Appropriation Bill (budget) argued for a higher vote to address the infrastructural deficit in the country.
Rep. Thomas Ereyitomi (Delta-PDP) in his argument, said the recurrent expenditure and overhead costs were too high.
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He argued that the too components of the budget took a larger part of the 2021 budget, with lower allocation to the capital component.
“Must of our roads and infrastructure are all decayed. We now have the budget before us where the recurrent expenditure and overhead cost are taken the large chunk of the budget. Mr Speaker, I want to recommend that the capital expenditure of this budget we need to increase it.
“We need to look at our infrastructure decay in this country. If we leave this budget as proposed without doing anything, the budget which we have much overhead cost we need to drastically reduce it. Above all, diversification is part of this budget Mr. Speaker. We need to diversify our economy so that our source of revenue in this country will not be tied oil”, he said.
In his contribution, Rep. Agunsoye Rotimi (APC-Lagos) said more allocations ought to be made to capital projects especially in the health sector to reconstruct general hospitals across the country in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Within the last seven months or more we have been able to know that without going abroad we can survive in Nigeria. I expect in this budget that under capital be it health or general capital that they should have made provision to reconstruct the general hospitals or we make provision to construct good hospitals with standard equipment that can take care of our health. I expected that and that is not here. Mr. Speaker, dear colleagues, I think the budget should be in that direction”.
On his part, Rep. Zachariah Nyampa (APC–Adamawa) commended President Muhammadu for making the 2021 capital budget N1.15 trillion higher than the 2020 provision of N2.69 trillion and for the assurance that capital expenditure in 2021 remains focused on the completion of as many ongoing projects as possible, rather than the commencement of new ones.
Yusuf Gagdi (APC- Plateau) stated that the 2021 budget is not balanced in terms of revenue generation, alleging that Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were mismanaging the country’s revenues.
“Why is our revenue still on the same spot when we have increased in VAT and other taxes. We need to see the positive of those increments in our revenue. I think there’s a conspiracy somewhere. Committees are yet to live up to the expectations by subjecting agencies in a very democratic manner to discover why our revenue is standing where it is”, he submitted.
Another lawmaker, Mark Gbillah (PDP, Benue) faulted the 2021 budget deficit projection of N5.20 trillion which he said was in contravention of the 2007 Fiscal Responsibility Act and called for the outright withdrawal of the Appropriation Bill.
He said: “Certain statutory provision of our laws that are meant to provide fiscal discipline are serially being violated by the executive in the budget proposals and presentations they made in the last Assembly”.
Debate on the budget continues Wednesday.