‘Sell 8 or 9 presidential planes,’ Atiku tells Buhari to slash the 2020 budget by at least 25 per cent

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Atiku argues that the 0.6 per cent cut from the 2020 budget by the FG is grossly insufficient.

Former vice president Atiku Abubakar says the decision by the federal government to cut the 2020 budget from N10.594 trillion to N10.523 trillion doesn’t reflect the fiscal realities of the nation properly.

In December 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the 2020 budget of N10,594,362,364,830 with an oil benchmark price set at $57 per barrel and an oil production rate of 2,18 million per barrel per day.

The epidemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which has infected more than 4.4 million people worldwide, has also affected the global economy.

This led the Federal Executive Council, during its meeting on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, to approve a revised budget of 10.523 trillion, a gap of N71.5 billion.

Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, said the Cabinet approved the reduction of the oil benchmark price from the initial $57 to $25 per barrel, and the production of crude oil from 2,18 million to 1,94 million a day.

“As we cut down the size of the budget, we also have to bring in new expenditure previously not budgeted, to enable us adequately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

Atiku said in a statement released on Thursday 14 May that the slash is inadequate and does not resolve the inability of Nigeria to increase its revenue base through the non-oil sector

He said the budget reduction of just 0.6 percent does not reflect the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has tanked the income of the nation by more than 50 percent.

“Putting politics aside, this is grossly insufficient and betrays the fact we have lost touch with the current realities in the global political economy,” he said.

Atiku, who lost to Buhari in the 2019 presidential election, said Nigeria can’t hope to compensate for its expected revenue loss by taking out more loans and issuing more bonds.

He urged the Federal Government to tighten the belt and slash executive and legislature spending.He said, “There has to be a cut in the billions budgeted for President and Vice President travel and eating.

The budget of approximately 27 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly has to go. Huge budgets have to be high to administer both the Presidency and the Legislature.

“The allowance for the President, his deputy, and other political office holders to buy expensive vehicles needs to be scrapped.

Leave the civil servants ‘salaries alone but increase the political appointees’ salaries. Price 8 or 9 of Presidential Air Fleet planes.

Atiku, vice president between 1999 and 2007, said the government also had to realign the 2020 budget to divert spending away from running a large bureaucracy into sectors of social growth such as education , infrastructure and, above all, healthcare.

He said the government would abandon leadership-level living in luxury, and then concentrate on investing in the Nigerian people.

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