2018 Budget: Be More Proactive In Plugging Leakages, Saraki Urges FG

saraki meets Buhari

Senate President Bukola Saraki, urged the Federal Government to be more proactive in plugging leakages in order to fund N8.6trn 2018 budget.

Saraki said said that as Nigeria gradually recovers from the economic recession, it is important to reset the fundamentals that drive the economy, to prevent a slide back into recession.

The Senate President said this at the Joint Sitting of the National Assembly on Tuesday in Abuja, when President Muhamadu Buhari presented the 2018 Budget Proposal which he christened “Budget of Consolidation.”

Saraki, in his speech at the session, said it was time for the nation to diversify the economy, even at a time the price of crude is gradually rising in the international market.

He said, “We must reassess the relationship between oil and our economy. Oil prices are gradually inching up, but that is no reason for complacency in our diversification drive. We must grow our economy away from oil — as well as the need to increase non-oil revenue generation and collection.”

He urged the Federal Government to be more circumspect in the handling of revenues from state-owned enterprises and taxes. “Revenue from taxes as well as independent revenues from state-owned enterprises must be taken seriously.

“If the budget is to be funded, we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to revenue under-performance. While there is a need to review extant laws guiding the operation of some government enterprises, I would urge for more determined effort on the part of the Executive, to plug leakages.”

He also counselled the Federal Government to ensure that the nation’s borrowing is targeted at productive projects that will stimulate the economy. “We must ensure real value for money in projects funded by borrowing, and make doubly sure that the projects are not overpriced,” he said.

He warned that as the country emerged from that period of uncertainty, the question on the lips of many Nigerians had been: ‘How does the recovery translate into tangible economic benefits for me?’ He therefore urged the government to remember that the real gains must be felt on a personal level by individual Nigerian if the much-touted economic recovery is to have meaning.

“People are seeking to get back to work but cannot find jobs,” Saraki lamented.

“While I commend your current efforts at tackling unemployment — especially among the youths through the Federal Youth Programmes such as YouWin, N-Power, and YES-Programme — deliberate steps must be taken to make the 2018 budget a job-oriented one,” the Senate President added.

He urged the Federal Government to doggedly implement the Procurement Law, “with particular relevance to the part that has to do with support for made-in-Nigeria goods;” arguing that the implementation of the 2018 budget must be anchored on the Made-in-Nigeria project.

“This should be reflected in government procurement in 2018,” he advised.
Advocating the spread of balanced development across the country, Saraki counselled,

“We must never lose sight of the need for equity and balanced development across the entire spread of our country.

“Infrastructural development should be seen to be well distributed, to create growth pools away from the major city centres and drive the regeneration of our rural areas.

“Agriculture, for instance, is meaningless without those that will engage in farming in the countryside.

“The current rate of rural-to-urban migration is alarming and unsustainable – congesting the cities and stretching resources to breaking point, while undermining the economic viability of some states.

“People must be able to see a future for themselves in every corner of this country, not just in the big cities.”

Advocating a sound relationship between the Legislature and the Executive, upon which, he said, the timely passage of the 2018 budget depends, Saraki said, “As I close, Mr. President, I would like to advise and caution that there is no better time in this administration than now for a rigorous drive for good working relationship between the Executive and the Legislature.

“The early passage of the 2018 budget will depend on this good working relationship.”