Recession looms as budget deficit hits N4.5trn

Strong indications emerged Monday that Nigeria economy is heading for another round of recession with deficit financing of  revised N10 .509 trillion 2020 budget rising from N1.847 trillion to N4.563 trillion.
Feelers to this effect emerged during defence sessions held by the Senate Committee on Finance with heads of the country’s revenues generating agencies on revised 2020-2022 Medium Term  Expenditure Framework ( MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper ( FSP) .

In separate presentations made by heads of the revenue generating agencies led by the Minister of Finance , Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, earlier targeted revenues from all the relevant agencies have been drastically slashed in the new proposals.

Besides, 77% of the newly proposed revenues from the various sources like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation ( NNPC), Federal Inland Revenue Service ( FIRS), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) etc, is for debt serving. 
Specifically, the Minister of Finance in her response to a question on the likelihood of recession said : “Very clearly the Gross Domestic Product (GDP ) has been reduced because of the economic crisis that we found ourselves in , but Nigeria is not alone in this. 
“The global economy is predicted to be also slipping into recession. What we are hoping to do by our own collective efforts – the executive and the National Assembly – is that we minimize how far we go into recession.

“National Bureau of Statistics ( NBS) ,  has made an assessment that we will go into recession to  the level of 4%..
“So some of the work that the executive is  doing  is preparing a stimulus package as  remedy , so that if it happens maybe we are going into 0.5% or 1% not going much lower.
“That is our unfortunate reality and the reality of the global economy”.
The slashed projected  revenues for the various agencies are the N1.5trillion earlier proposed for Nigeria Customs Service , reduced to N950billion , N463billion earlier projected as stamp duty revenues for FIRS now reduced to N200billion , N1.222trillion earlier projected for NNPC’s federally funded projects now reduced to N484billion .

But the Chairman of the Committee, Solomon Adeola ( APC Lagos West), in his closing remarks after the session said some of the new proposals may not be adopted as requested.
He said : “Having listened with rapt attention to all presentations   made by the Minister  for Budget and National Planning and the questions  asked  regarding the  MTEF and FSP, I  believed that members of the Committee  are satisfied  with reasons being offered by the minister on why we have to go this direction at this point in time.
“But Honourable  Minister, we are still waiting for  that Economic Stimulus grand  document by the committee headed by the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of  Nigeria,because what that documents intends to do is to keep the economy going aftermath of COVID-19.

“Secondly all related documents which we have requested as a committee ranging from the special accounts ,to the deficit document as explained by the DG budget office, it is expected that the documents get to us in no distant future.
“Also on the issue of the  Stamp  Duty, yes the Senate is to investigate the Stamp Duty Account with  the Central Bank of Nigeria,that motion has been passed  by the senate for the Committee on Finance to investigate and we will not hesitate to investigate because there is need for us to get to the root of this matter regarding the cashless transaction.

” For the FIRS,  yes,  there is a proposal that about one hundred and something billion  should be removed from your budget of N1.8 trillion under the company income tax, but I am happy to announce  to you that we are not going to reduce it and that it is expected that you bring in the money.”

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