AS the Senate begins consideration of the 2016 budget, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe has heavily criticized the fiscal proposal and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw it in the interest of the nation.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senator and former Deputy Governor of Abia State specifically criticized a proposal to increase “spending that is due to renovations within the Villa: they are going to renovate the Villa with N3.9 billion,” saying “what else do you want to renovate there that Nigerians will see in the Year 2016?”
Abaribe while making contributions during the consideration of the budget proposal said that the budget was faulty on many grounds and could not be implemented at it was.
He said that the adjustments made by the president for which the earlier budget was withdrawn for tinkering rather than reduce spending in areas where they were not necessary simply spread it into different offices.
According to him “a budget that moves domestic spending within Aso Villa from N580 million to N1.7 billion cannot be a budget of change..
“We were told that in the revised Budget there was an adjustment due to error, we agree but what has happened is that the money up to N7 billion were moved from buying vehicles to being spread in offices.”
The Senator said that predication of oil benchmark at $38 per barrel when oil prices had fallen below $30 per barrel makes the budget unfeasible.
Abaribe also faulted the government for increasing spending by 30 per cent based on borrowing.
He said: “Mr President, my colleagues, this budget is indeed unique, after the budget presentation, the finance minister has never come to explain the details of the budget as it is normally done.
“It is a budget of change I agree but it is a change in the wrong direction; I say it is a change in the wrong direction because it says that it is based on zero budgeting requiring all expenses to be fully justified.
“Mr President, a budget that increases spending up to 30 per cent based solely on borrowing, in what way is it justified? That is the question we want to ask the people who brought this budget as change.
“We know what is going on in the global economy: this budget is predicated on an oil benchmark of $38 per barrel and I can now say that with oil being $28 today, this Budget is dead on arrival.
“The job of the opposition is to help the government to get its priorities right so I want to please urge this government to withdraw this budget and go back to the drawing board.”