*Says government appears helpless, tactless, unconcerned
*Insists Tinubu mist stop further devaluing of Naira
*Condemns inadequate provision for social investment, poverty alleviation
By; SANI ALIYU, Zaria
The Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) has said that the euphoria by the finance minister that the 2024 appropriation proposal has a lower deficit estimate is laughable.
National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Falalu Bello who stated this in a statement made available to New Nigerian in Zaria yesterday, said, “it is lamentable that government removed subsidies on petrol prices and also devalued the Naira, common sense will tell you that more money will accrue to the government”.
The national chairman noted that, “It is thus a no-brainer that you record a lower deficit that, given the somewhat suspicious assumptions as stated earlier, may turn out to be worse than the estimated figures at the end of the period.”
According to him, the 2024 Appropriation Bill shows that the federal government plans to give more money to states and local government areas, but the government does not seem concerned about putting a functional machinery in place to ensure that such funds are properly utilized, especially as it is common knowledge across the country that the governors not only do not do enough to take development to the doorsteps of their people, they also strangulate local government areas by not giving them access to the funds meant for them from federation accounts which crippled local government areas all over the country.
He added that without checking the state governors and ensuring proper local government autonomy, the federal government is only playing to the gallery on fiscal federalism.
“Also, the emphasis on having to rely on foreign investors without recourse to Nigerian investors is another way of being on illusion in our developmental drive.
“In his presentation speech at the National Assembly, Mr. President noted that his government will partner with foreign investors to drive the economy. What then will the role of Nigerian investors be? Mr. President should remember his experience as an employee of a multinational company”.
“The company refused to build a headquarters in Nigeria, preferring to rent, until the now president of Nigeria insisted on their building a Head Office in Nigeria”. He said.
Alhaji Falalu Bello queried why should they be given preference above local investors.
“Nigerian investors should be promoted, protected, and empowered. In fact, they should be the ones who will invite foreign partners if need be.
“On the strategy for social investment whereby people will get a meager share of items for relief is largely flawed”, he said.
The PRP chieftain warned that this will never solve any poverty challenges, instead of spending to make Nigerians beggars, the funds should be invested in critical infrastructure, empowering youth to become entrepreneurs, and strengthening the operation of social insurance policies for insurance companies.
This he said, will not only reduce the burden on government, it will also enhance the social sector and boost government revenue through taxes and royalties.
“As students’ loan is targeted at making students complete their academic studies, the proposed 2024 budget is yet to address other salient areas of sustainably funding the university system. University autonomy is not negotiable, but it is not taken care of in the Appropriation Bill.
“The Governing Council of each university must be in charge of running them, while each department should commercialize their works and research outputs and they should also involve students to work for and with them.
“Accordingly, this will bring income to the departments and students, reduce the propensity of hiking school fees as departments will earn much more than whatever they can realize from school fees, and provide substantial experience for the students.
“The 2024 Appropriation Bill provides that N8.25 trillion, a whopping 30% of expenditure projection, will be used for debt servicing.
“This is more than 15 times the value of proposed expenditure on social investment, which is put at N534 billion, which is 2% of the proposed total expenditure.
“The amount is for paying lip service to poverty alleviation in a country where 130 million out of 220 million of her population are living in poverty.
“This is a sign that the government is not interested in the welfare of its people, especially as the most significant portfolio of the government for budget deficit financing is to borrow more when it should show restraints in expenditure, block leakage and improve tax collection and administration”.
“Indeed , with the removal, or reduction of subsidy on Petrol and the devaluation of our currency with a decree, the misery index has worsened.
“These policies was announced by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu without any consideration to the state of affairs of the common man while masses are dying in droves arising from hunger, malnutrition, and diseases.
“The government appears helpless, tactless, and unconcerned! How terrible and wicked can one be just a few months after winning elections.
“The recent adjustment of the exchange rate announced by the Central Bank which further devalued the National Currency by about 27% has already derailed the 2024 Budget as it will increase amount required for debt servicing, increase borrowing and more important increase inflation with its dire consequence of increasing poverty in the land.
“The Bola Tinubu Administration must stop the continuous devaluation of the Naira, which it has done on a continuous basis since it came to power.
“The Peoples Redemption Party in ending this review, condemns the inadequate provision for social investment and poverty alleviation, lip service to resolving pending challenges of our university system, lack of concrete framework to address local government autonomy and lack of political will to create opportunities for Nigerian investors,” he said.
The party also condemned the continuous devaluation of the Naira and very much, the incentive capital projects such as the renovation of the residence of the President and Vice President in Lagos, the budgetary provision to the office of the Chief of Personal Staff.