2021 budget: We’ll approve borrowing request from President —Lawan, Gbajabiamila

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The leadership of the National Assembly has stated its readiness to approve the borrowing plans of the government to fund the 2021 budget.

President Buhari had hinted of his plan to send request to borrow to fund the budget to the National Assembly on Thursday shortly aftwr assenting to the N13.566 trillion 2021 budget.

Reacting to the comment, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan said, “I don’t think this is the right time to discuss this. But let me say that if we have to implement capital development in oour country and we don’t have the funds readily available because we don’t have enough revenue, the alternative will be to look for another source of funding.
“We could go for Public, Private Partnership, we could go for borrowing. But I want to assure you that whatever request that will come to the National Assembly for borrowing, we must as a National Assembly ensure that such funds when borrowed, will be applied be applied on capital projects for the development of the country.

“I want to assure you, that once it is in the interest of the people of Nigeria, the National Assembly will work on that. If however we have issues, then we will say so that we must apply such funds strictly on capital development of our country. When you are running a deficit budget, you have to make up for that shortfall somehow, somewhere and that is what happens in advance democracy.

“So we can agree that first of all, for a country to develop and to have an ambitious development plan, it is almost inevitable that you borrow. I think what is important is what you are borrowing for, how do you apply the borrowed fund.”

Also speaking on servicing debt, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila said, “First of all, for a country to develop and have an ambitious development plan, it’s almost inevitable that you borrow. What is important is: what are you borrowing for? How do you apply the borrowed funds?

“It’s about the application of the borrowed funds. Is it for productivity or is it just for overhead and the rest of them. And that is where the National Assembly comes in. You left that out of Mr President’s statement. I heard him saying clearly that CSOs will also cooperate on this matter. Their conditions are precedent. He talks about transparency regarding the borrowed funds.

“So, those are the things we need to look out for. Where is this money going to? Is it transparently and judiciously expended? And I believe the answer is clearly yes. If you don’t have money to inject into the system based on your revenue profile, and you want to develop, how do you do it?

“You are straight jacketed. It will affect everybody. Again, it’s a great question, but the answer is: where is this money going into? America borrows, everybody borrows, South Africa borrows. But they are borrowing towards something. And that is what we will do in 2021.”

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