The Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Alex Okoh has urged the government to stop financing budget deficit every year with borrowings from foreign and local loans. He said that it would be best for the N2.28 trillion deficit in the N10.33 trillion 2020 budget to be funded by proceeds from the sale of moribund national assets.
Okoh, who stated this during an interactive session between his agency and the Senate Committee on Privatisation said that there were national assets that could be converted into liquid for that purpose instead of taking foreign and local loans.
“It is not good to keep on 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 the best alternative in funding yearly budget deficits since the assets are more or less becoming national liabilities.
“There are about 600 state-owned enterprises in the country which gulp not less than $3 billion on a yearly basis with little or no returns into the public purpose,” he said.
More details: Okoh suggested that the National Theatre in Iganmu Lagos and the National Stadium in Surulere should be concessioned as they are national assets. He said that although the country was facing issues in getting the privatized sector to function very well, it could be addressed.
The BPE DG went on to assure the committee members, saying that the N320 billion expected as revenue from the agency to fund the 2020 budget would be realised by the second quarter of next year from proceeds to be made from some national assets slated for privatisation.
However, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Theodore Orji, however, directed Okoh to furnish the committee with records of the agency’ s 2019 budget performance ahead of consideration of the 2020 budgetary estimates for the agency by the committee on Monday next week.