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2014 Budget - PDP, APC Senators Unite Against Okonjo-Iweala

January 29, 2014

Johnbosco Agbakwuru and Joseph Erunke

Senators elected on both the PDP and APC platforms, yesterday, united against the Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala , blaming her for the country's economic woes. They specifically accused the minister of imposing the economic policies of the International Monetary Fund , IMF and the World Bank on Nigeria . The senators also accused themselves of being part of the problem in the non-implementation of previous budgets in the country, pointing out that this was because they had not been living up to their constitutional responsibilities in the discharge of their oversight functions. Deputy Senate Leader, Abdul Ningi , PDP, Bauchi Central, cautioned against Nigeria depending on the policies of the IMF, the World Bank and other advanced economies of the world, adding that the country should evolve indigenous economic policies that would impact positively on the people. He hinged his argument on the premise that western economies were collapsing, unlike the home-grown economies of India and China , which according to him were waxing stronger by the day. Similarly, Senator Smart Adeyemi , PDP, Kogi West , said that Okonjo-Iweala should be told in clear terms that the economic policies of the IMF and the World Bank would not work in Nigeria . According to him, "the policy must be reviewed. The IMF and World Bank policies cannot work 100 per cent in Nigeria . We don't need IMF commendations. What we need is what will impact on the lives of Nigerians. We need to concentrate on key areas such as power and other sectors as well as work on budget management." Also, in his contribution, Professor Sola Adeyeye , APC, Osun Central, accused the Finance Minister of confusing Nigerians with foreign economic jargons, which he described as 'Okonjonomics', adding that they would not impact positively on the domestic economy and lives of Nigerians. Adeyeye called on the PDP and the APC to unite so as to terminate any rascal in government. He also asked the Senate to find a way of terminating waivers to companies that have no direct impact on the country. Senator Odion Ugbesia , PDP, Edo Central, in his contribution said: "This budget proposal may not be the best and cannot satisfy everybody but it can be seen as a working paper that will guide towards a budget that will satisfy everybody. "It could be used to find some solutions to our problems. My worry is the concept of envelop that comes with it annually. To me, it is an impediment. We should use the opportunity of this budget process to redefine the roles of the executive and legislature as it relates to designs and implementation of budgets," he said. Senator Ganiyu Solomon , APC, Lagos also advised the executive to change policies that had not been yielding results, saying, "we should increase the ratio of capital expenditure to recurrent." Commenting on the ratio of the capital votes to recurrent, most of the Senators observed that the 76 per cent recurrent expenditure and the 24 per cent capital components of the budget were rather lopsided, and therefore far from meeting the needs and aspirations of the people. According to Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano South ), the distribution of the allocation in the budget is worrisome and unacceptable. He called on the executive to swap the figures for capital with the recurrent. "The Federal Government budget is the reverse of the Rivers State budget. I wish the budget will be 74 per cent capital and 26 percent recurrent," Gaya said. Senator Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos East, APC), in his contribution, pointed out that capital expenditure in the last three years had witnessed some downward swing. Presenting a statistical analysis of capital votes in the last three years, he said, "the capital allocation for 2012 was 31 per cent; in 2013, it came down to 23.7 per cent while 2014 is 23.4 per cent. Observing that the 2014 budget estimates negated the requirements of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, Ashafa described the document as an illegality, calling for its return to the 'sender', (Executive). Majority of the APC, senators, in their contributions, insisted that the Appropriation Bill should be returned to the executive for lacking necessary indices for rapid socio-economic development. The Senate President, David Mark renewed his appeal to his colleagues to make their contributions from a nationalistic stand point, and not from party leanings. "Let us look at this budget from a national perspective, rather than political party perspective", Mark appealed. The debate would continue to today.

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Source: AllAfrica

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