The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) slammed President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration yesterday for failing to include treasury-funded capital projects in the proposed 2023 appropriation.

The association expressed regret that, despite the massive debts incurred by the APC-led government to fund expenditure in next year’s budget, no provision was made for capital projects.

In criticising the government’s decision, HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, stated that the government must not only increase the cost of governance at the expense of citizens’ social well-being and security, but also embark on projects that will improve people’s lives.
“Recall that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, this week, said the government may borrow about N11.3 trillion to fund expenditure in the 2023 budget as the deficit is projected to be at most, over 12.41 trillion next year or at least, N11.3trn which is over 100 per cent of the N7.35trn deficit for the 2022 fiscal year.

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“The minister spoke whilst presenting the draft 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper before the House Committee on Finance.

“On government expenditure, the minister stated that given the constrained fiscal space, the deficit was projected to be N12.41trn in 2023, up from N7.35trn in 2022, representing 196 per cent of total federal government’s revenue of 5.50 per cent of the estimated GDP.

“This is significantly above the three per cent threshold stipulated in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) 2007, and there will be no provision for treasury-funded MDAs capital projects in 2023.

“Scenario two, the federal government’s 2023 aggregate expenditure is estimated at N19.76trn (inclusive of GOEs). In this scenario, the budget deficit is projected to be N11.30trn in 2023 up from N7.35trn in 2022.

“This represents 5.01 per cent of the estimated GDP, above the three per cent threshold stipulated in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), 2007,” HURIWA said.

However, Onwubiko in his reaction said, “It is perplexing that there is no break to the borrowing spree embarked upon by the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari since 2015.

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“It is more astonishing that the nation can go a whole year with no capital projects despite that this government keeps ballooning recurrent expenditures and increasing costs of governance at the detriment of the social wellbeing and security of the citizens which is the primary duty of government in the grundnorm.

“The 2023 budget projection of the government is not acceptable. We call for amendments to reflect the popular will of the people, especially to reinforce the fight against insecurity, reduce costs of governance, increase social welfare for the disadvantaged, battle systemic corruption at its peak within government circles at all levels and build up the badly destroyed strategic sectors of roads, schools and hospitals.”

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