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Reps seek ‘surgical operation’ on 2018 budget estimate


• To okay MTEF next week
Alleging that the 2018 Appropriation Bill lacked the financial muscle sufficient to consolidate the nation’s growth, members of the House of Representatives have advocated a critical ‘surgical operation’ on the document.

Members took the position while baring their minds on the third day of debate on the general principles of the budget on the floor of the House.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had on November 7, 2017, laid the proposal before a joint session of the National Assembly made up of the Senate and the House.

In his contribution, Goni Bukar Lawal (Yobe State) hailed the capital expenditure package contained in the bills.
Commending the 30 per cent set aside for capital expenditure in the budget, he said: “Government in the budget has made provision to complete projects in Enugu, Anambra, and Kebbi states. 2018 budget is expected to consolidate on the gains of government and ensure the completion of ongoing projects.”

But the House Deputy Whip, Pally Iriase, however, decried the poor performance of the 2017 budget, saying: “Whatever that was in the 2017 that was not carried out would be rolled in full into 2018. Our chairmen will do well to put side-by-side with 2018 budget and compare and ensure that MDAs did not just wave off provisions for 2018.

“We must as a House consider this very seriously. If we do this, it will help to curb the spate of abandoned projects, and help the lives of our people for the better.”

Istifanus Gyang (Plateau State), also called for proper oversight on the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
On his part, E.J Agbonayinma (PDP, Edo State) described the N400billion capital projects funds released in the 2017 budget as unacceptable, saying it was absurd for government to borrow for debt servicing.

“Government must lay more emphasis on our production sector. Government must make sure that peace reigns in the Nigeria so that production will not be cut short.”

Also contributing, Lawal Abubakar (Adamawa State), sought mechanisms for blocking revenues leakages, while Raphael Nnana-Igbokwe (PDP, Imo State), faulted the budget proposals for its failure to accommodate the Imo Airport.
“We now have a Naval Base in Imo. For youth development, a paltry sum of N40million is being provided, this doesn’t augur well for the nation,” he said.

Munir Baba Abondi (Kano State), advocated firm measures to improve agriculture in the country. “I want a situation where the CNB must align itself with the Ministry of Agriculture,” he said.

Abdulraman Shuibu (Adamawa State), argued that the 2.3 million barrels of oil per day production target was not realistic, while Babajide Benson (APC, Lagos State), said: “Predicating the exchange on N305, I think we will be losing money because it would discourage Diaspora remittances.”

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, noted that the budget debate had not been exhausted, as members whose names had been penned down as contributors would have an opportunity to speak today (Tuesday).

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