The House of Representatives has begun a debate on the 2016 budget.
Leading the debate on floor of the House on Wednesday, the House leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, described it as a budget of growth and development.
Members put their political differences aside to provide objective views, on the proposed bill.
Some members expressed concern over the funding of the budget, given the downward in the crude oil prices which stood at less than $30/barrel as at Wednesday.
However, the House Leader in his presentation, said government was broadening its tax net, to pursue a more aggressive revenue collection drive as well as blocking all leakages to generate more funds for its implementation.
Out of the six point zero Eight Trillion Naira (N6.08tr) budget, One point Eight-Five Trillion Naira (N1.85tr) was set aside for capital expenditure, representing thirty percent (30%) of the budget.
This reflects an increase of about ninety percent (90%) on the 2015 budget.
The budget also has a Two point Two Trillion Naira (N2.2tr) deficit and is proposed to be financed by Nine Hundred and Eighty-Four Billion Naira (N984b) Domestic Borrowing and Nine Hundred Billion Naira (N900b) Foreign Borrowing. This is the first time Domestic Borrowing exceeded the Foreign Borrowing.
Oil and gas
This comes as the House pledged to place more emphasis on the improvement of the oil and gas sector for the government’s change agenda to be realized.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara, who stated this at the House Public Hearing investigating the Oil Swap Agreement contract of the NNPC, insisted on the transparent, professional, and efficient management of all resources.
Mr. Dogara said improving the management of the country’s available resources and its effective utilization would drive the economy and the developmental aspirations.
He explained, “Our goal here is not to witch-hunt, no! It is essentially a diagnostic review with the aim of repositioning the oil sector to perform its role as a major primer of the nation’s development.
The issue of transparency in the management of the oil sector considering its significance to the economy of Nigeria is at the very heart of our nation’s development challenge, especially at this time of dwindling revenue resulting from the continued drop in oil prices.
As at yesterday, Oil, I understand, was trading at $28 dollar from about $114 it traded as at September, 2015. You don’t have to be an economist to observe that if we do not improve on the management of available resources and effective utilisation of oil/petroleum resources to drive the economy, our developmental aspirations will continue to emaciate.”
He further explained that the essence of the investigation was to expose abuses and loses to the Nigerian nation, with a view to revitalising the sector, to make it more efficient and transparency driven.
He said “if we could pause to imagine for one moment what the effect of a vibrant oil sector driven by efficiency and innovation, would mean to the Nigeria energy sector, power, textile industry, rice mills, the manufacturing start-ups, assembly plants, manufacturing, agribusiness development in general, aviation, communication, cost of doing business, insecurity, service delivery, technology adoption, life expectancy of Nigerians both in the rural and urban areas, SMEs and unemployment, etc. The implications and ramifications are immense, indeed they are enormous. Therefore, we cannot afford to fail, Nigerians will not afford half measures.”
The Chairman of the committee, Zakari Mohammed in his remarks said the exercise was to ensure that revenue from the nation’s extractive industries were transparently managed.