The Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream, Senator Gershom Bassey has urged Nigerians to be optimistic in the possibility of the 2016 budget proposal to bring positive changes in the economy.
Debate and consideration of the 2016 appropriation bill began on Wednesday in the upper legislative chamber, and so far the document has come under intense criticism by the opposition Senators who believe it is not implementable.
However, Senator Bassey who represents the Cross River South senatorial district in the Niger delta region of Nigeria, allayed the fears of many critics of the 2016 budget when he said that the document had the capacity to revive the economy.
“Well, look I don’t believe the budget is over ambitious, in fact, I don’t believe the budget is even ambitious enough because I am a great believer in deficit budgeting. I have seen a lot of economies recover using deficit budgeting as a tool, the classical example is the great depression in the United States where Roosevelt recovered using deficit budgeting same as Obama and many others. So, deficit budgeting is not something to be afraid of; I have no problems with that but deficit budgeting must be rooted in reality”.
Senator Bassey further submitted that the first step towards ensuring that the budget meets the expectations of Nigerians is to deepen the ongoing conversation between the Executive and Legislative arms of the government.
“And so, my issue is, we need to deepen the conversation with the Executive. How in the face of the type of huge economic uncertainties that we are facing worldwide, are you going to fund the budget, that’s my question. And they need to come and answer that question and tell us what they are thinking,” he noted
Explaining the role of the opposition as the budget debate goes on, Senator Bassey defended his colleagues, who have been seen to be antagonistic of the budget proposal.
“For us in the opposition, we don’t have problems with the budget as a document but our role is to point out areas that there may be problems in implementing this budget. And we hope that the Executive will take note of some of these areas because these are areas that all of us are going to focus on when the defence of the budget begins.”