Senate majority leader Opeyemi Bamidele says the N9.9 trillion recurrent expenditure of the N27.5 trillion 2024 budget is too high, as it constitutes 43 per cent of the budget.
Mr Bamidele said this at the opening of the debate on general principles of the budget at plenary in Abuja on Thursday.
He said the total fiscal operations of President Bola Tinubu’s government would result in a N9.8 trillion deficit, representing 3.88 per cent of the estimated GDP, saying that this was above the three per cent threshold set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.
Mr Bamidele listed budget highlights as an oil price benchmark of 77.96 dollars per barrel, a daily oil production estimate of 1.78 million barrels of condensates of 300,000 barrels to 400,000 barrels per day, and an exchange rate of N750 to one dollar.
He said that based on the fiscal assumptions and parameters, the total federally-collectible revenue was N16.87 trillion in the budget, while total federally distributable revenue was N11.09 trillion.
Mr Bamidele said the total revenue available to fund the 2024 budget was N9.73 trillion, including revenues from 63 government-owned enterprises, while oil revenue was projected at N1.92 trillion, with non-oil taxes at N2.43 trillion, among others.
The Senate majority leader explained that to finance the deficit would result in new borrowings totalling N7.83 trillion in addition to N294.49 billion expected from privatisation.
He said the deficit would also be financed from N1.06 trillion drawn from bilateral, multilateral loans secured for specific development projects programmes.
Mr Bamidele, however, said there was a growing concern over continued borrowing, but Mr Tinubu resorted to it to finance fiscal gaps.
“But let me state here that the debt level of the federal government is still within sustainable limits. Very importantly, these loans are used to finance critical development projects and programmes aimed at improving our economic environment and ensuring effective delivery of public services to our people,” the senator stated.
Osita Ngwu (PDP-Enugu) said Mr Tinubu had fulfilled his promises by capturing food security and poverty alleviation in the budget. He said there was a need to review the Petroleum Industry Act(PIA) to ensure the continuous ramp-up of oil production to fund the deficit in the budget.
Senators who contributed to the debate commended the president for the budget, claiming it offers hope for Nigerians battling an insufferable economic hardship.