Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has reacted to the N13.08 trillion 2021 budget proposal submitted to the National Assembly by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Thursday.
Contained in the document, Atiku said the proposals contravene critical sections of the Fiscal Responsibility Act as such, the president and his team should recall and rework the document in the interest of the nation and its economy.
Atiku’s reaction was contained in a statement on Friday, titled “The 2021 Budget Proposal Contravenes The Fiscal Responsibility Act”
He said “I call on the President, to recall this budget, and recalibrate it to reflect the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007, and the current economic realities of the nation. To do otherwise will not only be unpatriotic, it will also be catastrophic for our nation’s economy.”
A careful study of the 2021 Budget raises a number of “very grave and perhaps, disturbing issues” according to him, and he noted that space and time constraints made it difficult for him to list them all in a single intervention.
He said “The budget deficit in the proposal is ?5.21 trillion. This amount is just over 3.5% of Nigeria’s 2019 GDP. This is contrary to the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007, which provides in Part II, Section 12, subsection 1 that: ’Aggregate Expenditure and the Aggregate amount appropriated by the National Assembly for each financial year shall not be more than the estimated aggregate revenue plus a deficit, not exceeding three per cent of the estimated Gross Domestic Product or any sustainable percentage as may be determined by the national Assembly for each financial year”
“Nigeria had a GDP of approximately $447 billion in 2019. Three percent (3%) of this amount is $13. 3 billion, which at the current official exchange rate of ?379 to $1, gives you a figure of ?5.07 trillion"
“So, clearly, the budget deficit of ?5.21 trillion, as announced by President Muhammadu, is above 3% of our GDP and is therefore in contravention of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007”
The presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, in the 2019 general elections, also said “Even more disturbing is the fact that our GDP has fallen sharply from its 2019 figures, and has been projected by the World Bank and other multilateral institutions at somewhere between $400 billion and $350 billion. Meaning that in actual sense, the ?5.21 trillion budget deficit is actually far above the 3% threshold stipulated by the FRA"
“That this escaped the notice of the Buhari administration shows a glaring lack of rigour in the formulation of the Budget. A very disturbing development"