The Nigerian Senate has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the Economic Sustainability Plan so as to strengthen the economy in view of the resultant impact occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, gave the charge on Thursday in a welcome address delivered during the presentation of the 2021 budget estimate by President Buhari at a joint session of the National Assembly.
According to Lawan, there was the urgent need by the government to sustain programmes aimed at economic diversification, not only because of the unpredictable nature of oil revenue but due to recent uncertainties arising from the Coronavirus outbreak.
He added that sufficient injection of funds into such programmes would give a boost to the nation’s economy.
Lawan said, “The implementation of the 2020 budget has shown a remarkable improvement over the previous years.
“Certainly, the injection of funds for the various programmes and projects had helped our economy. We expect that before the end of this fiscal year, the 2020 budget would have been implemented 100 per cent. This will be a historic feat.
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is a global affliction that every country needs to address through various measures. The National Assembly approved the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan, a plan of the Federal Government to address the economic challenges of today.
“All efforts should be made to implement the plan, as a number of schemes are designed to keep our micro, small and medium enterprises afloat.
"Mr President, it is our hope that the 2021 budget will be targeted at consolidation of gains made by the 2020 budget. The 2020 budget was targeted at sustaining growth and jobs. We need to not only protect jobs but create more.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the ultimate vulnerability of our economy, as a monolithic, oil dependent economy. The sudden crash in the price of crude in the world market, and the consequent impact on our economy, should spur us into genuine search for the diversification of our economy, for other revenue sources.”
The Senate President while pledging the National Assembly’s readiness to pass the 2021 budget before the end of the year, said doing so “will continue to enable planning and enhance productivity and efficiency in the management and application of our resources”.
He, however, lamented that the Nigerian Government had resorted to borrowing to fund critical projects in the budget due to inadequate revenue at its disposal.
Lawan blamed government’s low revenue profile owing to leakages on the inefficiency of revenue generating agencies.
“Mr President, as our revenues plummeted, we have resorted to borrowing to fund the development of some critical infrastructure.
“Our revenue generation, collection and remittances need to be critically examined. Recent interactions between our committees on finance and national planning and economic matters, with over 200 revenue generating and collection agencies have revealed so much inefficiencies in their systems.
“It was revealed that government loses so much money as a result. Similarly, there are so much leakages of moneys that could have easily been available for national development.
“Due to inadequate revenue, government has to borrow in order to finance its projects. It is equally important that we should diversify our sources of funding of our programmes and projects. We need to encourage and promote more private sector participation in developing some of our physical infrastructure.
“We could explore the Public Private Partnership, Build Operate Transfer, and many other funding options. This is with a view to reducing our level of borrowing,” he added.