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Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Saraki Finally made a fair statement about 2016 Buhari’s budget.

Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki has described the 2016 budget of President Muhammadu Buhari as ambitious.
He said for it to be realistic and successful, emphasis should be on the non-oil and independent revenue generating sources.
Saraki, while answering questions from senate correspondents after commissioning the newly upgraded and refurbished senate press centre at the national assembly in Abuja, said the senate would focus attention on the revenue generating areas and ensure that all leakages were blocked.
The senate president stated that though the 2016 budget proposal was ambitious, it could be achieved if all that was necessary to make it work was put in place.
When asked if the 2016 budget is implementable in view of the dwindling price of crude oil at the international market, Saraki said: “I think this is one of the reasons why we are having the MDAs defend their proposals before the committees to be able to test some of the scenarios and some of the assumptions, particularly on the revenue side.
“If you look at the revenue, out of about N3.8trillion, N3trillion is coming from non-oil and independent revenue.
“The success of the budget, in my own view, is less on the benchmark. It is more on those two items, non-oil revenue and independent revenue, and that is why we directed our Committee on Finance and other relevant Committees to really scrutinize the revenue side.
“Even the Senate leadership intends to also engage with the ministries as well to really check those two lines, because that is really where the questions come on whether it is achievable. Before we put our signature to it, we need to be sure that those funds are there.
“I believe they are ambitious but it is a good sign, because it begins to make us less dependent on oil… because if N830billion is coming from oil revenue and it is only 23%, even if the price of oil goes down or up, we are not really so much vulnerable than the time when oil revenue was accounting for 70 of our revenue. From that point of view, I believe that once we can do that, it is achievable.”
The senate president also advised the executive to put a proper plan in place for implementing the budget since the national assembly was working to pass it in record time.
He said that the national assembly would soon amend the Public Procurement Act to facilitate quick implementation of the budget.
Saraki added: “But also talking about being achievable or implementable, already, some of the things we are going to look at and which we are going to advise the executive on is that while we are working on the budget now, they too should also start making a plan on how to implement the budget because what tends to happen is that even after we have passed a budget, the administration or its bureaucracy sometimes makes the budget difficult to be realisable.
“And two areas: one is looking at the procurement process and it is very likely that we will need to come out with an amendment bill as regards to certain areas of the procurement law. That is something that we are likely to come out with very soon. People are looking at that now to see again how we can assist the executive to see that the budget is implementable.”
On the need for transparency and openness in the national assembly budget, Saraki said: “On the issue of national assembly, I think I’ve kept on repeating this many times. If you remember, even during the time the leadership was constituted, one of the issues that came forward was that we will have an open and transparent eighth senate and I still want to be held to that.
“Also during this process, of course, national assembly budget too will also be debated and by the time the final document is out, I can assure you that we are going to move away from the time of one-line item for the national assembly to a national assembly where there will be a break down according to different sections of the institution.”

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