2018 Budget Far From Being ‘Budget of Consolidation’—Ben Bruce

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By Dipo Olowookere

Nigerian Senator, Mr Ben Murray-Bruce, has said the 2018 appropriation bill recently presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to the parliament “is far from being a budget of consolidation.’

The lawmaker, who is very vocal on the popular social media platform, Twitter, made this disclosure on Monday while reacting to the appropriation bill.

According to the event promoter from Bayelsa State, a budget built with debt is nowhere near being described as a budget of consolidation.

Speaking via his verified official Twitter page yesterday, Mr Murray-Bruce said, “With due respect, the 2018 budget is far from being a budget of ‘consolidation’.

“A budget built with debt. We spend one quarter of our revenue on debt servicing. It is more realistically termed a budget of over active imagination divorced from reality.

“Nigeria now has $64.2 billion in foreign loans as of June 30, per the latest numbers from the Debt Office.

“Our debt to GDP ratio is now so high that even the World Bank is alarmed, yet we are carrying on as if all is well with parties here and owambe there.”

Last Tuesday, President Buhari presented a budget proposal of N8.61 trillion for 2018 to the National Assembly.

In December 2016, Mr Buhari presented a budget of N7.3 trillion for 2017 to the parliament, but the lawmakers increased it to N7.44 trillion when it passed it in May 2017 before it was signed into law a month later.

In the 2018 budget proposal, the President said his administration plans to spend over N2 trillion for debt servicing.

According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), the total domestic debt figure is currently in excess of N12 trillion.

The oil benchmark was pegged at $45 per barrel with the external reserves presently slightly over $34 billion.

During the budget presentation, President Buhari said the recurrent expenditure is N3.494 trillion, while capital expenditure is N2.428 trillion, excluding the capital component of Statutory Transfers, and debt service (N2.014 trillion).

Statutory Transfers was about N456 billion, while provision for a sinking fund was about N220 billion (subject to retired maturing bond to local contractors).

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