- Wants FG to clarify its economic policy
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Hon. Leo Ogor, has described the 2016 budget proposal presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly as the worst ever since the return to democratic rule in 1999, when factoring the inflated figures and other errors that have been unearthed in the budget.
This is as he harped on the need for the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government to clarify and publicise its economic policy targeted at reversing the economic downturn.
Speaking with THISDAY in an interview monday, Ogor said the budget proposal did not reflect the transparency, which the current government premised its campaign on.
“We expected a level of transparency to be reflected in this budget. First they told us it would be a zero-based budget, but what happened clearly was that they took the template of the 2015 budget and just started throwing in figures without even taking cognisance of the current challenges,” he said.
Ogor added that the budget did not conform to the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), as it does not contain the budgets of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and other agencies that are statutorily required for inclusion in the Appropriation Bill.
He called on the National Assembly to ensure that a thorough job is done to ensure that the country gets a budget that addresses the present challenges.
“For example, the presidency proposed almost N4 billion for the renovation of the State House clinic; that is a huge amount of money. It is left to the committees to now ask what the N4 billion would be used to renovate; it is the core responsibility of the committees to reduce such huge resources to reflect the realities of the day.
“That is why there is need for them to go for some oversight functions to see and assess what is on the ground,” Ogor said.
Speaking on the foreign exchange policy of the government, the minority leader re-echoed the sentiments of many, saying that the policy was not realistic, as the naira had already been devalued in the parallel market.
“Anyone who insists we would not devalue does not appreciate the realities on the ground. What would you use in measuring your currency? Definitely, it is the parallel market price that would measure the currency. So when the black market sells for almost N400, and you are pegging the dollar at N199, you are simply deceiving yourself.
“What this situation encourages is profiteering, where people source dollars through the official market and sell at the black market. If you have access to $1million, automatically you make a profit of at least N200 million. Let nobody be deceived, there is a need to look at this policy again.
“There may be a need for an economic summit – call the Minister of Finance, call the Central Bank, call these important agencies to tell us what is actually going wrong.
“This is the first time we are in such an embarrassing situation; where we cannot even pay children’s school fees abroad, where we cannot go on medical trips abroad,” Ogor said.