Uche Usim, Abuja
In an effort to meet its mandate, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on Sunday disclosed it has so far contributed N135bn out of the N220bn it is expected to generate for the 2019 fiscal budget as contained in the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework.
The Director-General of the privatisation agency, Mr. Alex Okoh made the disclosure at an interactive forum with the Senate Committee on Privatisation said the N135bn was generated through the sale of the Afam Electricity Generation Company (Afam Power Plc and Afam Three Fast Power Limited),re-privatisation of the Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC) and sale of 29 percent Federal Government’s shares in the Geregu Power plant.
Okoh while calling on the National Assembly to critically look at the funding framework for the Bureau, expressed optimism that BPE would meet its target for the 2020 fiscal budget.
He regretted that out of the N2bn allocated to the Bureau yearly from the national purse for its operations, N1.5bn is for staff emoluments through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and “of the N500m that is supposed to come to the Bureau for overheads and capital expenditure, only about 15 percent of the amount is eventually released to the Bureau against what is obtained in other revenue-generating agencies of the Federal Government”.
The Director-General advised the Federal government to give consideration to the privatisation of federal government-owned enterprises to fund the N10.33trillion 2020 budget, with a total deficit of N2.28trillion and decried a situation where the state-owned enterprises place undue pressure on the lean public purse by way of subventions.
He noted that there was no justification for the ritual of yearly budget deficit with local and external borrowings when there were national assets that could be converted into liquidity to fund the government’s fiscal programmes.
“It is not good to keep borrowing on a yearly basis to finance deficit budget when a lot of very valuable national assets are lying fallow and moribund. Proceeds from outright privatisation or concession of the moribund assets, should serve as veritable sources in funding the budget since the assets are more or less, becoming national liabilities”, he added.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Privatisation, Chief Theodore Orji had reiterated the importance of privatisation as the key driver of the Nigerian economy and pledged the support of the Committee to the Bureau.