President Goodluck Jonathan Thursday subtly defended his decision to leave out fuel subsidy from the 2012 budget, painting a graphic picture of how the country has been borrowing to fund capital projects when the money spent on subsidy alone would have sufficed instead. But the House of Representatives has demanded that subsidy must be returned to the budget.
In the Senate, members were unanimous in condemning the provision of N922 billion for security in the 2012 budget – a position the House also agrees with, arguing that the vote was bloated and lopsided against some key sectors such as power, education and agriculture, even when Nigeria was not at war.
Jonathan said government borrowed the entire capital budget was N1.146 trillion this year, whereas it has paid over N1.2 trillion for fuel subsidy alone. “This year with the present budget, we are paying back the part of the money we borrowed but what is in the budget is only N560 billion, just about half of the money we borrowed. Who will pay the balance and when, with interest? There is no way we can continue to run the economy this way,” he said.