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2021 Budget: Why borrowing is unavoidable – Senator Keita

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Senator representing Katsina North Senatorial district, Ahmad Baba Keita has adduced disruptions of 2020 budget implementation ocassioned by the COVID-19 global pandemic has made it practically impossible for government not to borrow to fund 2021 national budget.

Keita who is the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Petitions, Ethic and Privileges, added that the upper lislative would however be “thorough” when they commence the scrutiny of the 2021 budget laid before the Assembly last week by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In an interaction with CAPITAL POST at the National Assembly, the Katsina lawmaker insisted that there is imminent recession which was hinted by President Muhammadu Buhari, hence, borrowing was the way to go in managing the nation for now.

“As an Assembly we will push for the thorough scrutiny of the budget and also pass it in record time so that so that its benefit will take effect at the right time.

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“The President lamented that it (borrowing) has its effects on the economy, which is very true, but borrowing is necessary at this critical point in time.

“Where are we going to get money to invest in our infrastructure? And without good infrastructure, we cannot have good environment for serious economic activity. So borrowing is a doubled-edged sword, on the one hand we don’t want to borrow on the other we have to get our economy to up and running for our people.

“So if we use the borrowed funds properly then it is not out of place, our economy and balance sheet are still healthy.

“Like he [Buhari] said, it is a budget of consolidation. We want to consolidate on the gains we have got so far especially on infrastructure, economic revival and social investment.

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“As we all know midway into the 2020 budget, we had the coronavirus which actually crippled most economics and it is not peculiar to Nigeria. Because of that we have to increase the amount of the budget allocation to various MDAs to be able to meet up with the challenges occasioned by the impact of the coronavirus,” the lawmaker explained.

Speaking further on the possible impact of the 2021 budget on Nigerians, Senator Keita noted that the budget will reach out to majority of Nigerians as it was the first time the federal government was allocating the highest quantum of funds for the social investment programme.

He said “taking cognizance into the fact that the federal government has withdrawn the petroleum subsidy and electricity tariff has gone up and the federal government has allocated the largest package ever of over N400 billion to invest on the citizens through the Social Investment programme of the government.”

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The lawmaker also said that the determination of the 9th National Assembly to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) this time around will further boost the health of the Nigerian economy as passage of the bill will open up the oil and gas sector for more investment.

“When passed into law it [PIB] will open up the oil and gas sector for investment. However, we have to be very careful to avoid the pitfalls of the previous Assemblies that led to the non passage of the bill.

“We have to do it right for investors to come, so we have to be meticulous as we work to pass the bill into law,” the lawmaker stated.

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