Senate Chief Whip Orji Kalu said there was a need to focus government spending on the manufacturing sector as against the current practice where the largest chunk of the country’s appropriation goes into consumption.
Earlier in the week, President Muhammadu Buhari presented a N20.5 trillion budget proposal to the National Assembly. Mr Kalu said the proposal must be critically vetted.
He expressed concern that the country is undergoing some economic challenges due to low productivity.
“The cost of governance is too heavy and should be channeled into the manufacturing sector and into the productivity sector,” Mr Kalu advised. “We are not producing anything, we are just a consuming nation.”
He said that the only way out of borrowing is by boosting the manufacturing sector and increasing productivity.
“I am not saying I am in love with this budget, I am not saying I am dissatisfied with the budget, but I am saying there are areas the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriation needs to look into.
“We should be able to look into this yearly recurrence. I used to ask my colleagues, does it mean that civil servants are the people buying the same stationery, same furniture and same equipment every year?’’
He also urged the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriation to scrutinise the budget thoroughly with a view to identify any irregularity.
“What I have seen in this budget is what I saw last year in the same budget, and it is not going to be good for us if we continue recycling what we have,” Mr Kalu said.
He emphasised the need for the country to go back to agriculture as a means of diversifying the economy.
Mr Kalu said that the country should place great emphasis on agriculture, so that the country would come out of the present situation.
The senate whip further expressed concern that the security situation in some parts of the country was affecting production.
According to him, there are security challenges in the North-East, South-West, South-East and other parts of the country.
Mr Kalu said that the situation needs to be addressed urgently, as farmers are not going to farm and there is low productivity.
“The industry capacities are down; industries are not manufacturing as capacity has gone far below 6 per cent.
“I have two industries in Lagos, they are closed down, they are not doing anything.
“The answer to not doing anything is borrowing, unless we start producing,” Mr Kalu said.