Mr Babachir Lawal, the secretary to the government of the federation has affirmed the uncertain state of the economy, saying it was currently running at 40 per cent loss.
He said this yesterday when he appeared before the Senate Joint Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions as well as Finance and Appropriation.
He also told the senators that the federal government might not be able to fully implement the 2016 capital budget due to a dwindling revenue profile. Before now, experts had warned that the economy was heading for recession.
The SGF pointed out that his invitation by the Senate, which came less than 24 hours to the date of the meeting, was in bad faith. He subsequently withdrew the statement and apologised to the senators.
Lawal, to the consternation of the senators, also confirmed earlier media reports that constituency projects floated by the lawmakers were no longer implementable in the face of the prevailing economic realities.
He said: “You know, constituency projects are championed by lawmakers but the executive implements them along with other projects for ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). If the revenue profile of the government improves, they will be implemented, but N6.6 trillion for 2016 is based on a daily estimate of 2.3 million barrels of crude production. But today, we all know that due to the activities of militants in the Niger Delta, the crude oil export is 800, 000 barrels per day.
“As a responsible government, it is good to prepare the minds of the people to the challenges. The 2016 budget was based on zero budgeting and is focused on key infrastructure that will create jobs and ensure security.
“At present, 50 to 60 per cent of the projected revenue for government has decreased, not only in oil but also non-oil revenue profile; so this is what the government is explaining to Nigerians.”
But a member of the committee, Senator Mao Ohubuanwa, wondered why the federal government would single out the lawmakers’ constituency projects as the only part of the capital budget that would be affected by the dwindling revenue.
He said that constituency projects were the only way through which members of parliament could directly improve the lives of their constituents.
The Senate had summoned the SGF over negative comments he allegedly made pertaining to the implementation of constituency projects contained in the 2016 Appropriation Act.
The Senate’s Committees on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions and that of Finance and Appropriations were mandated to meet with Lawal and report back to the chamber in one week.
The joint committee is headed by the chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo State).
The decision of the Senate to summon the SGF was sequel to a point of order for personal explanation raised by Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South).
In his submission, Urhoghide made reference to an interview granted by the SGF to one of the national dailies (not LEADERSHIP) three weeks ago, in which he said that the constituency projects captured in the 2016 budget would not be implemented.