By Adedapo Adesanya
In order to fund the proposed N10.33 trillion 2020 budget, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has called on the federal government to privatize government owned enterprises to settle the N2.28 trillion budget deficit.
This stance was made known by the Director-General of the BPE, Mr Alex Okoh, at an interactive forum with the Senate Committee on Privatisation at the National Assembly and was contained in an official statement released over the weekend.
He called for the sale of the federal government assets which were not bringing in revenues for the government but were becoming liabilities as these state-owned enterprises were placing undue pressure on the lean public purse by way of subventions.
He said that it wasn’t rational to constantly fund budget deficit year in, year out with local and foreign borrowing when there are abundance of national assets that could be sold to fund the federal government’s fiscal programmes.
“It is not good to keep borrowing on a yearly basis to finance budget deficit when a lot of very valuable national assets are lying fallow and moribund.
“Proceeds from outright privatisation or concession of the moribund assets should serve as veritable sources in funding the budget since the assets are more or less becoming national liabilities,” he was quoted to have informed the Senate as saying.
He noted that the BPE had contributed N135 billion out of the N220 billion that it was expected to generate for the 2019 fiscal budget. This is more than 60 percent of the expected sum.
Mr Okoh explained that the N135 billion so far been generated by the bureau was realised through the sale of the Afam Electricity Generation Company (Afam Power Plc and Afam Three Fast Power Limited) and the re-privatisation of the Yola Electricity Distribution Company.
He also said that the sale of 29 percent of the Federal Government’s shares in the Geregu Power plant contributed to the sum.
Mr Okoh called on the National Assembly to critically look at the funding framework for the agency, but expressed optimism that the agency would meet its target for the 2020 fiscal budget.
He disclosed that out of the N2 billion allocated to the agency yearly from the national purse for its operations, N1.5 billion is for staff emoluments through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
“Of the N500 million that is supposed to come to the Bureau for overheads and capital expenditure, cent of the amount is eventually released to the Bureau against what is obtained in other revenue generating agencies of the federal government.”
He, however, expressed optimism that the bureau would meet its target for the 2020 fiscal budget.
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