THE Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), the National Arts Theatre and some selected power plants under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) are part of the key national assets the Federal Government has concluded plans to sell, House of Representatives’ members were told yesterday. The purpose of the proposed sale is to generate sufficient
revenue to finance the country’s annual budgets for the next three years (2018-2020).
Director General of Budget Office Ben Akabueze, who told the House of Representatives Joint Committees on 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)/ Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) about the plan, noted that the Federal Government’s non-core assets from the mines and steel sector like houses and estates are part of items slated for sale. According to Akabueze, items for the 2018 budget would be financed from the revenue garnered from sales of the key government assets as well as national parks.
He said proceeds from the privatisation of the assets would be used to finance the budget deficit of N2.005 trillion, much of which will be financed through domestic and foreign borrowings, adding that the aspect had been factored into the 2018 budget. The country, he said, was generating too little revenue, hence it was expedient to borrow. The Director General of Budget Office added that the reverse would be the case, if actually the assets were generating revenues.
“We are generating too little revenue, hence we are borrowing. If we generate enough, borrowing ratio will drop,” he said. However, chairman of the joint committee, Babaginda Aliu, frowned at the absence of five Federal Government agencies he described as critical to the 2018 budget consideration and passage, which were invited to the session. He noted that notwithstanding the late submission of the MTEF/ Fiscal Strategy Paper, the committee was committed to streamline its activities to pass the document and ensure the budget is passed in record time.
The Minister of State for Budget and Planning, Hajia Zaniab Ahmed, representative of the Governor of Central Bank, Adelabu R.A. and Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) Dr. Tunde Fowler made presentations during the session. Also present were the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance Alhaji Mohammed Isa Dutse, who represented the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; and the Comptroller-General of Customs Col Hameed Ali was represented by Deputy Comptroller General of Customs in charge of T&T, Alu S.R.