Senate jerks up 2019 budget to N8.91trn

                            Senate adjourns over  lack of quorum

The National Assembly, yesterday, approved a total of N8,916, 964 ,099,373 for the 2019 fiscal year.

It, will, tomorrow, transmit the bill to President Muhammmadu Buhari for his assent.

Present Buhari had on December 19, 2018 presented a budget estimate of N8.826,636,578,915 billion to a joint session of parliament.

A breakdown of the budget indicated that the total capital and recurrent expenditure (non-debt) was pegged at N2,094, 950, 709,632 and N4,055,940,383,684 respectively while N24.6 billion was budgetted for the severance allowance of outgoing members of the National Assembly and the induction of newly elected lawmakers. Ministry of Interior got N617 billion.

The breakdown of the appropriations shows that NN564 billion is for recurrent expenditure and N53.6 billion for capital expenditure.

Ministry of Defence got N589.9 billion, out of which N430 billion is for recurrent and N159 billion for capital expenditure. However, N75 billion was voted for Lafiya Dole and other operations of the armed forces.

Ministry of Education got N521 billion with N463 billion and N58 billion for recurrent and capital expenditure respectively.

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Ministry of Works, Power and Housing got N427.9 billion. But unlike other MDAs, large percentage of the ministry’s budget is channeled towards capital expenditure, as it got N33 billion for recurrent and N394.9 billion capital expenditure.

Another N100 billion under the FGN Special Intervention Programme: Social Housing will go into Housing construction by (Family Home Fund)

Ministry of Health got N372.7 billion with N57 billion as capital expenditure and N315 billion for recurrent expenditure.

Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, Mustapha Dawaki, told journalists that the budget will be transmitted to the president tomorrow for his assent.

“We were told to pass the budget by end of March but we couldn’t do that because Ministers and head of agencies were not coming forward to defend their proposals,” he claimed.

The budget is expected to run for 12 months from the day it is assented to .

Dawaki, who gave highlight of the budget at a press briefing, said the parliament adopted the oil benchmark and exchange rate as proposed by the executive arm of government.

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He explained that the National Assembly had scheduled to pass the budget in March, but most of the MDAs did not comply with the timetable for the defence of their budget estimates.

According to him, “the proposal that was sent to the National Assembly, there are two components of the budget; we have the benchmark for crude oil production and the exchange rate. The National Assembly sustained all these items the way they were sent by the President. The oil benchmark projection was 2.3 million barrel per day. The exchange rate was proposed at N305 per dollar and the National Assembly sustained it. We also sustained the 60 dollar per per barrel oil benchmark. We did not change anything with regard to the executive proposal.”

The Appropriations Committee chairman said the only area that was touched was the deficit.

“The fiscal deficit when it was sent to us was N1.906 trillion. However, as it is now, there is an increase of 53billion on the deficit. Reason is that there were so many outstanding items that were not captured in the 2019 budget proposal. There was a resolution in the Senate that urged the Federal Government to intervene in the security situation in Zamfara. N10 billion was approved for special intervention.

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“There is also severance benefit for outgoing legislators and legislative aides, which was not captured in the 2019 budget proposal. These expenses are always happening in the transition year. When legislators are exiting and new ones are coming in, we have to make provision fo that which amounted to N26.4 billion.”

There is also salaries for legislative aides that have not been “paid for four years, for which N3 billion was provided to pay them.”

Thee was also addition to the security agencies generally, because of what is happening in the country. We believe that providing more funds for them will make them discharge the constitutional responsibilities diligently.These are areas the National Assembly intervened.These things are captured under the service wide vote.”

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