JONAS EZIEKE and EUCLID MYKE, Abuja
Following the Seven Trillion, Four Hundred and Forty One Billion, One Hundred and Seventy Five Million, Four Hundred and Eighty Six Thousand, Seven Hundred and Fifty Eight Naira only (N7, 441,175,486,758) Budget estimate passed by the National Assembly, the lawmakers jerked up their Budget from N115 Billion proposed by the executive to N125 Billion despite the economic recession.
Also in the Budget is another N100 Billion set aside for Constituency Projects which will nominated by the members of the National Assembly and executed in their various constituencies.
Briefing the Press, the Chairman House Committee on Media and Publicity, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, explained that the increase in exchange rate coupled with the high cost of living was responsible for the upward push in the NASS budget. He added that even the N150 million which was previously allocated to the National Assembly will be inadequate for them taking cognizance of the present economic reality.
A closer examination of the budgets reveals some Sub-heads require further clarifications. Such areas include the N1 Billion allocated to the Head of Service (Federal Government Staff Housing Loan Board), N1 billion for National Development Plan (Ministry of Budget and National Planning), Zonal Intervention fund (Constituency Project) N1 Billion, Galaxy Backbone N4 billion, Contingency (Capital) N10 billion.
However, some lawmakers raised objections over the N51, 933 billion Recurrent allocation to the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) as well as the N32, 778 allocated to same office in the Capital expenditure but the Speaker Hon. Yakubu Dogara told his colleagues that the amount was for the office of the SFG, the Cabinet office all other agencies which the SGF supervises and not for the personal disbursement of the SGF.
In his presentation on the floor of the green chambers, the Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Hon Mustapha Bala Dawaki (APC Kano) stated that the 2017 Budget of “Recovery and growth” targeted some key projects like the second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, funding of the abandoned Itakpe – Warri rail line, the Abeokuta Airstrip and provision of adequate infrastructure on the inland water ways including Amnesty programme in the Niger Delta.
According to Dawaki, “The purpose of the budget is to add life to the economy. This estimate is predicated on the revenue assumption of an oil price benchmark of US$42.50 per barrel, crude oil production rate of 2.2 million barrels per day (mbpd) and on exchange rate of 305/USD.
Details of the Budget shows that N343.412bn was for statutory transfers while N1.841tr was for Debt services. The Recurrent Non-Debt Expenditure got an allocation of N2.086 tr for the executive just as the other Federal bodies were allocated N14.344 billion. Service wide votes was allocated N887.008 billion bringing the total recurrent non-debt expenditure to N2.987 Trillion.
The capital component of the Budget for the executive was N1.710 trillion while the other executive bodies were allocated N1.717 trillion just as N310.037 was allocated for Capital Supplementation.
According to the Budget document, N1.488 trillion was allocated to Domestic Debt while Foreign Debt was allocated N175.882 Billion.
While thanking members for their contributions to ensure that the Budget was speedily considered, the Speaker said that every effort will be made to ensure that the document was not adulterated before it is transmitted to the executive.
According to Speaker Yakubu Dogara, All the members of the committee must sign before the budget must be accepted by the appropriations committee. Sounding a warning, the speaker said, “Nothing must change on the details of the budget just passed. Any amendment or correction must be brought back to the Committee on Supply before such adjustment will be effected”.
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