One of the projected revenues in the budget already crashing is the N820 billion oil revenue that is at a deficit of N395billion, given the drop in oil price to $27 per barrel as against $38 per barrel in the budget.
But, according to the senators, instead of relying heavily on borrowing substantially for the implementation of the budget, which goes by average of N500million daily, heavy taxation is a better option.
Leading the debate in this direction, the Senate Chief Whip, Olusola Adeyeye (APC Osun Central), said without spreading the dragnet of taxation in the country to all needed areas, there would be no money to fund the budget, especially in the face of dwindling oil revenues.
According to him, the country needs to go back to the model of governance used during the First Republic where every adult was made to pay tax, not now that only civil or public servants pay tax.
He said: “If we are going to move this country forward, we must go back to what we did in the days of Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello and Nnamdi Azikiwe.
“Nobody in my village will go to his farm until he can produce his tax receipt; we need ingenuity to bring this to pass. We must begin to tax things like cigarettes, alcohol; you beat your wife, you pay heavily.
“Text messages cost N3.81 a page: if we add just N1 to a page of text message and we say that money belongs to government, we will make billions.
“We must install toll on roads, but that is not enough: across the world, when you park at any airport, you pay per hour; we must do what the rest of the world does.
“We must begin to tax allowances; Nigeria is the only country that shelters the bulk of the earnings of its workers and call them allowances. You don’t want your allowances taxed? They will be taxed because they must be taxed.”
For proceeds made from tax collections and other revenues of government to be properly used, Adeyeye asked the Senate’s Public Accounts Committee to be up to its responsibility as it was in the 7th Senate under the chairmanship of Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC Yobe North).
He specifically called on the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, not to allow recommendations of the committee against wastages in governance to be swept under the carpet, just as he called for cuts in governance at all levels and more effective oversight functions by the various Senate standing committees.
“I know that everybody in the Nigerian Senate is either a Chairman or a vice chairman of a committee, each of us therefore tries to defend whatever sector that has been committed to your care.
“When things go wrong, if you are APC, you will blame PDP; if you are PDP, you will blame APC: we forget one thing that every year, we were sent by our people here to monitor this budget and prevent them from failing.
“I duff my hat to the former chairman of public accounts who brought to this Senate most germane relevant document about abuses in the system, but we in this chamber refused to consider it.
“I pray to God that under your leadership, whatever is brought must be considered otherwise God will judge all of us, beginning from you.
“Lastly, if we are going to save this country, we must reduce the cost of government: there are too many parastatals and when you look at these parastatals, many of them have failed in their missions, we continue to protect them and give them money, it is time for them to go.
“We must go back to operation 504: there was a time when our President rode 504, go and stand in front of Eagle Square, see the cars judges, senators and ministers are riding.”
Still on the heavy borrowing plan in the budget, the Senate Deputy Minority Whip, Abiodun Olujimi (PDP Ekiti South) warned that if the budget is allowed to pass as it is drafted, it may send Nigeria back into the list of pariah states.
Olujimi said the budget only made projections for heavy revenues through massive borrowing without stating any plan for repayment of such loans.
She said as things are presently, the N6.08 trillion budget which came with a deficit of N2.2 trillion may end up having a deficit of N2.6trillion, which will invariably make the country to borrow average of N500million for its financing.