Senate begins budget debate as Leader faults N9.9trn recurrent expenditure

Senate passes Finance Bill

Senate begins budget debate as Leader faults N9.9trn recurrent expenditure

Senate passes Finance Bill
Senators in session

Senate Leader, Bamidele Opeyemi, says the N9.9 trillion recurrent expenditure of the N27.5 trillion 2024 budget is too high, as it constitutes 43 per cent of the budget.

Opeyemi said this at the opening of debate on general principles of the budget at plenary in Abuja on Thursday.

He said that the total fiscal operations of the Federal Government would result in N9.8 trillion deficit, representing 3.88 per cent of estimated GDP, saying that this was above the three per cent threshold set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

Opeyemi listed highlights of the budget to include oil price benchmark of 77.96 dollars per barrel and daily oil production estimate of 1.78 million barrels of condensates of 300,000 to 400,000 barrels per day and exchange rate of N750 to dollar.

He said based on the fiscal assumptions and parameters, total federally-collectible revenue was N16.87 trillion in the budget, while total federally distributable revenue was N11.09 trillion

Opeyemi said total revenue available to fund the 2024 budget was N9.73 trillion, which included revenues from 63 government-owned enterprises, while oil revenue was projected at N1.92 trillion, with non-oil taxes at N2.43 trillion among others.

He said to finance the deficit would result in new borrowings totaling N7.83 trillion in addition to N294.49 billion expected from privatization.

He said the deficit would also be financed from N1.06 trillion drawn from bilateral, multilateral loans secured for specific development projects programmes.

He, however, said there was a growing concern over continued borrowing, but the administration resorted to it to finance fiscal gaps.

“But let me state here that the debt level of the federal government is still within sustainable limits.

“Very importantly, these loans are used to finance critical development projects and programmes aimed at improving our economic environment and ensuring effective delivery of public services to our people,” he said.

Contributing, Sen.Osita Ngwu (PDP-Enugu) said President Bola Tinubu had fulfilled his promises by capturing food security, poverty alleviation in the budget.

He said there was need to ensure a review of Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to ensure the continuous ramp up of oil production to fund the deficit in the budget.

Senators, who contributed to the debate, commended the President for the budget, saying it was a budget of renewed hope.(NAN)