Atiku: Buhari’s 2021 Budget Does Not Reflect The Economic Realities Of Nigerians

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Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to recall the 2021 budget and recalibrate in accordance with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

Atiku who said this in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday lamented that the 2021 budget does not reflect the economic realities of Nigerians.

He observed that the 2021 Budget Proposal presented to the National Assembly by the president on Thursday was in contravention of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

The former Vice-president said the passage of the budget would be unpatriotic and catastrophic “for our nation’s economy.”

Atiku noted that the Appropriation bill has a number of issues that are “very grave and perhaps disturbing” including the deficit of ₦5.21 trillion which is over 3.5 per cent of Nigeria’s 2019 GDP contrary to the provisions of the Act.

He said: “I could bring up several of them (issues), but for the sake of its direness and consequence to our economy, permit me to address one very important issue.

“The budget deficit in the proposal is ₦5.21 trillion. This amount is just over 3.5 per cent of Nigeria’s 2019 GDP. This is contrary to the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007, which provides in Part II, Section 12, subsection 1 that: ‘Aggregate Expenditure and the Aggregate amount appropriated by the National Assembly for each financial year shall not be more than the estimated aggregate revenue plus a deficit, not exceeding three per cent of the estimated Gross Domestic Product or any sustainable percentage as may be determined by the National Assembly for each financial year.

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“Nigeria had a GDP of approximately $447 billion in 2019. Three per cent (3 per cent) of this amount is $13. 3 billion, which at the current official exchange rate of ₦379 to $1, gives you a figure of ₦5.07 trillion.

“So clearly, the budget deficit of ₦5.21 trillion, as announced by President Muhammadu Buhari is above 3% of our GDP and is therefore in contravention of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007.”

According to him, “Even more disturbing is the fact that our GDP has fallen sharply from its 2019 figures, and has been projected by the World Bank and other multilateral institutions at somewhere between $400 billion and $350 billion. Meaning that in actual sense, the ₦5.21 trillion budget deficit is actually far above the 3% threshold stipulated by the FRA.

“That this escaped the notice of the Buhari administration shows a glaring lack of rigour in the formulation of the Budget. A very disturbing development.

“Furthermore, this deficit shows the precarious state of our national finances, which have since been overburdened by excessive borrowing on the part of the Buhari administration.”

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