Wednesday, January 27, 2016 7:05 PM / News
Let me congratulate congratulate you all for the painstaking insightful and detailed deliberation we have had so far. The debate has been very critical and engaging.
From both sides of the isle, I have watched and seen for myself an exceptional commitment towards the Nigeria project. The debate over the 2016 budget has been civil, apolitical and laced with the desire to deliver this budget. Again, both sides of the isle have described this budget as courageous and unique. I heard many used the word, 'Uncommon' describing the budget as a clear departure from the past. I totally agree with your position.
One, in the area of revenue where for the first time we are talking about 77% of our revenue will not depend on oil. Oil only accounts for 23%. This to me, and to all of us, is the most important area of this budget. It will be a great foundation not only for today but for the future, if this can be achieved.
Also in the area of capital which is about 30%, (which is a first in over 5years) deserves our commendation. This has been a benchmark that has looked seemingly impossible to achieve in the past. Yes a lot of comments have been made over the level of borrowing that may occur as a result, I think in general summary, it must be acknowledged for many things; the borrowing is targeted at only capital projects and could provide the necessary fillip to stimulate the economy fro growth. Even as of now, as a percentage of GDP, we are still within the limits and parameters. But what is important is that the National Assembly would ensure that all appropriated money is judiciously used for what it is appropriated for.
In the area of diversification, a lot of observations were made for the fact that the area of agriculture and minerals did not reflect - the message of diversification did not reflect in the numbers that were allocated to those particular sectors. Those are the areas that we should look into. The observation on equitable distribution was also highly well noted. This is also an area we take note when we go into our deliberations.
Distinguished colleagues, you would recall that on the issue of benchmark, a lot of people have justifiably raised their concern. Last week, the direction of oil price had moved downwards but as we can see, as at yesterday we see that the price has picked up again to above $30. So, the message there we have to make our decision both on the immediate, short and long term before we decide based on daily effects to the local benchmark.
Distinguished colleagues, one issue that we cannot play game is blocking leakages and cutting out wastages. It is important to note that the issue of blocking leakages is key and for the experience of the past, we must learn for the future and if we don't talk about the future there is no way to talk about the present.
Another issue is the issue of the war against corruption. We are hand in glove with the president on this matter this is why we are going to be overhauling our oversight systems to make them more effective in exposing corruption. We recognize the hard work that our anticorruption agencies. This Senate must support them adequately to do their duty effectively by providing them with adequate funding. I am sure the relevant committee will look at that.
Distinguished colleague, Mr. President has played his own role, it is now the time for us to play our own role. Sub-Committee on Appropriation, I hope we will all take note of all the observations that have been made and highlighted.
Key areas, for the Committee, particularly, the Committee on Finance and Petroleum, is the estimate. Very key that we get this right because if we don't get this right, there is a likelihood of we archiving what will not work. So, I like these committees to particularly be very ready to critically scrutinize this revenue estimate that we can all put our name too and ensure that every item and every objective it has been designed to achieve have been fully captured.
On our parts, we will ensure that starting from tomorrow, the sub-committee will start to meet with MDGs and start to present defence on the budget. The submission of the reports that we need for those two weeks from February 12 to February 18, we will want those reports to be before the Appropriation Committee.
Distinguished colleagues, as we scrutinize the other budget from different ministries, as part of also leading by example, also the budget on our side, first time we have made commitment about it to be open about it and to know what of going to the Senate, to the management and to the different parts on the National Assembly, it is important also that we can see there will be much over sight functions for this budget to be effective. So, when we are doing the National Assembly budget, we must take this into note that we must empower our Committees to be able to do proper oversight and also it is clear that our own laws that exist now also need review in order to be in line with the new direction of prudence and efficiency. Again, that is going to be mean a lots of work to our committees. So, our committee on Services should address this issue in the budget.
Now, to let me categorically make it clear as we have said and all agreed, there is no room for money for budgeting in the process. Any allegation of such will be thoroughly investigate by Ethic Committee and such allegations where proven will be met with severe sanctions. We will ensure that where it involves an agency of government, we will play our own role, we will report it to the executive and ensure that they take appropriate action in this area. We must ensure that the integrity of this institution will continue to sustained and not tarnished by anyone.
On this note, distinguished colleagues, I thank you all for your contributions and I hope that we have made the commitment as we agreed to pass this 2016 appropriation bill in record time. I will direct that the Appropriation Committee should target February 24th, 2016 to be able to submit their report.
On this closing remark, I will like put the question that those in Favour that this
PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE