We’ll sell public assets to fund 2021 budget –FG

From Uche Usim, Abuja

The federal government is currently under tremendous pressure to pool funds to augment the 2021 budget shortfall of N5.2 trillion.

As a result, it will, in addition to borrowing locally and internationally, sell some government-owned properties for the same purpose.

Also on the card is the plan to sell some non-oil assets to serve as additional source of finance for the year’s budget.

This arrangement is contained in the public budget presentation made recently by the Finance Minister, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.

The N13.58 trillion budget for the 2021 fiscal year is N505 billion higher than the budget proposed in October, 2020.

In the approved budget, about N496.5 billion was approved for statutory transfers and N3.3 trillion for debt servicing. The recurrent expenditure was put at N5.6 trillion with capital expenditure at N4.1 trillion and fiscal deficit at N5.2 trillion (5,196,007,992,292).

Tongues are wagging over government’s addiction to borrow to fund budgets annually. For this year, the government is to borrow N5.6 trillion from domestic and foreign resources. The amount being the total deficit for the 2021 budget.

This represents 3.93 per cent of the GDP.

According to the budget, “Sales of government property” and “non-oil asset sales” were listed under the “additional financing” section of the document. This section shows an overview of how the deficit will be financed.

Although it did not state the companies listed for sale, neither did it state the expected revenue from the sales, this confirms earlier speculations of the government’s plan to sell off some properties.

In November 2020, the Senate committee on privatisation said it was not aware of the government’s plan to sell or concession some national properties through the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE). This was during the agency’s 2021 budget defence session.

Documents presented to the committee showed plans by the federal government to sell the Integrated Power Plants in Geregu, Omotosho, and Calabar at N434 billion in 2021.

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