Nigeria: Petrol Subsidy Eroding Revenues Available to Fund Budget – Buhari
For the first time since the inception of his government in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday acknowledged how much petroleum subsidy had eroded national revenues, making it impossible for the country to adequately fund its annual budget, despite significant appreciation in crude oil prices.
Buhari made the revelations in Abuja while presenting a N16.39 trillion Appropriation Bill for the 2022 fiscal year to a joint session of the National Assembly.
But Chairman of the National Assembly and President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, flayed the rising level of budget deficit.
Nevertheless, there was hope of an early passage of the 2022 budget proposal, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, assured the president of quick consideration of the estimates by the National Assembly.
Similarly, the ruling party All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday said the proposed 2022 budget was designed to accelerate government’s ongoing efforts to diversify the economy.
But the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described the proposed budget as another budget of sorrow and pain to Nigerians.
Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) slammed the budget presented by the president, saying though his last full year budget, it does not have items that can at least see him leave office with some element of pride.
The 2022 Appropriation Bill was tagged “Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability.”
Buhari recalled that in March 2020, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) had announced that market forces would henceforth determine the price of petrol.
He stated, “However, as the combination of rising crude oil prices and exchange rate combined to push the price above the hitherto regulated price of N145 per litre, opposition against the policy of price deregulation hardened on the part of labour unions in particular.
“Government had to suspend further upward price adjustments while engaging labour on the subject. This petrol subsidy significantly eroded revenues that should have been available to fund the budget.”
Buhari said allocations to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the budget were guided by the strategic objectives of the National Development Plan of 2021-2025. He said the plan prioritised diversification of the economy with robust Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) growth; investing in critical infrastructure; strengthening security and ensuring good governance; enabling a vibrant, educated and healthy populace; reducing poverty; and minimising regional, economic and social disparities.
The president stressed that the security sector would still take a chunk of the 2022 budget, saying, “Defence and internal security will continue to be our top priority.