Budget NG

Senate increases 2017 budget by N143bn, to pass document Thursday

by OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja

May 9, 2017 | 5:15 pm
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The Senate has received the report of the 2017 budget, increasing the figure from N7.298 trillion to N7.441 trillion.

This comes as the upper legislative chamber on Tuesday declared that the 2017 budget will be passed on Thursday.

The report presented by Danjuma Goje Chairman, Joint Senate Committees on Appropriations and Finance, indicated that this year’s appropriation bill was increased by N143 billion, as against N7.298 trillion presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to a joint session of the National Assembly on December 14, 2016.

According to the report, N434.4 billion is for Statutory Transfer, N1.84 trillion Debt Servicing, while Sinking Fund for maturing bonds takes N177.46 billion.

Similarly, N2.99 trillion is for recurrent (Non-Debt) expenditure, while N2.17 trillion is appropriated for contribution to the development fund for Capital Expenditure.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi revealed after presentation of the 2017 budget that unlike last year’s budget, the 2017 budget will be passed alongside the details.

Also, both chambers of the National Assembly will present a harmonised budget.

This, he said, is a departure from the past where both legislative chambers presented separate budgets and established conference committee to harmonise their reports.

“The report that was laid is going to be exactly the same report that will be laid in the House of Representatives. We have not just laid the report, we have also laid the report along with the details of the budget. From 1999 till date, it has not happened. And even last year’s budget, it did not happen.

“But arising from the plethora of concerns raised, we have tried to move forward to improve upon what happened last year. This year, there was no bickering, we have more harmonious working relationship. So, the essence is we have seen a budget that has been properly harmonised unlike in the past when we laid our own and the House laid their own, that is when the Conference Committee will come up for harmonisation. This time around, these are part of the new reforms we have introduced,” the Senate spokesperson said.

President Buhari had refused to assent to the 2016 budget due to lack of details from the apex legislative body after its passage on March 23, 2016. The details were later presented after which he signed the document on May 6, 2016.

On Tuesday, the Senate formally received the 2017 budget for consideration.

The budget which was presented by the Joint Senate Committee on Appropriation and Finance at Tuesday plenary, was done five months after its presentation by the Executive.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had presented the N7.298trillion budget to a joint session of the National Assembly on December 14, 2016.

The appropriation bill was laid by Danjuma Goje, chairman of the joint committee and seconded by Sunny Ogbuoji.

Receiving the report,  Senate President Bukola Saraki disclosed that senators were yet to receive both hard and soft copies of the budget. He, however, assured that lawmakers would get soft copies today (Tuesday) and hard copies on Wednesday.

The National Assembly has come under fire for failing to pass the budget, having been presented by the President on December 14, 2016.

The President presented the 2016 budget on December 21, 2016, and was passed by the National Assembly on March 23, 2016, even as Buhari assented to it on May 6, 2016.

However, the Senate spokesperson assured that the budget will be passed within 48 hours of its presentation.

He said: “We have a rule. If you know our rule, if you lay a report today, you must take 48 hours. So by Thursday we are coming back to come and consider the report and pass it.

“As a departure,  what was laid in the Senate is exactly what will be laid in the House of Representatives because the two committees worked together. The report, details are the same. Unlike in the past when we finish our own,  we lay it. They lay their own then we Now have a joint conference committee that will harmonise. But the two committees have already harmonised their report to arrive at a final document that is acceptable by the two committees”.


by OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja

May 9, 2017 | 5:15 pm
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