ADEKUNLE ADESUJI, ABUJA
After months of delay, National Assembly on Thursday passed N7.44 trillion for 2017 budget, even as the Federal lawmakers released its budget ending the 8 years of secrecy.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in December 2016 proposed N7.28 trillion for the National Assembly for consideration.
The details of the National Assembly budget as released contains line by line breakdown totalling N125 billion for 2017 budget against N115 billion for 2016 budget.
In the National Assembly budget released, Senators, House of Representatives will spend close to N80 billion on salaries and running costs in 12 months.
According to details of National Assembly released, Management- N14, 919, 065, 013; Senate- N31, 398, 765, 886;House of Representatives- N49, 052, 743, 983; National Assembly Service Commission- N2, 415, 712, 873;Legislative Aides- N9, 602, 095, 928; Public Accounts Committee of Senate- N118, 970, 215; Public Accounts Committee of Reps- N142, 764, 258; General Services- N12, 584, 672, 079; N/A Legislative Institute- N4, 373, 813, 596; Service Wide Vote- N391, 396, 169.
Presenting the budget for consideration on the floor of the Senate, the Chairman, Appropriations Committee, Senator Danjuma Goje, presented the report for consideration by the lawmakers said N434.4 billion was appropriated for statutory transfers to the National Judicial Council (N100 billion); Niger Delta Development Commission (N64.02 billion); Universal Basic Education (N95.2 billion); National Assembly (N125 billion); Public Complaints Commission (N4 billion); INEC (N45 billion); and National Human Rights Commission (N1.2 billion).
According to Goje, National Assembly aappropriated N2,987,550,033,436 for non-debt recurrent expenditure of the MDAs that are not under statutory transfers club.Capital expenditure is slightly less, taking N2,177,866,775867.
For debt service, the National Assembly earmarked N1,488,002,436,547 to service domestic debts; N175,882,993,952 for foreign debts; and 177,460,296707 for sinking fund to retire maturing loans, totalling 1,841,345,727,206 for debt service.
On the Oil benchmark, the Executive proposed USD 42:250 while National Assembly approved USD 44:50 with exchange rate of N305 to one dollar, 2.2 million barrel per day.
On the National Assembly, the budget was raised from N115 billion in 2016 to N125 billion in 2017.
Speaking in the plenary on 2017 budget, Senator Dino Melaye said: “For the first, the budget contains full details of the National Assembly, not only line by line, but explicitly. I was happy when I saw NASS budget details in the document distributed to us this morning. This will afford civil society groups and every Nigerian to ask questions.”
Commenting on the budget, Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, said that with the passage of the 2017 budget it would be the first time that capital expenditure would reach 30 per cent of the total budget passed.
Also in his remarks, Senate President, Bukola Saraki said,” Let me thank in particular the appropriations committee and all the sub committees and members of appropriations committee. This budget that we have passed you recall enable us so much recall the number of first. This is the first time we had public hearing as part of the process for the 2017 appropriations act, the level of engagement and contributions of the civil society as played a part in making this budget a different and a remarkable one.
“Another first we achieved is seeing that the line by line details of the budget was laid down along with bill, again this is a great achievement on the part of us and I commend you all.
“Another first we have achieved is making the budget of the National Assembly available to the public which has been an issue for a long time. I am very proud for what we have been able to achieve and we do hope that this budget of recovery that we believe as reflected equity, it has ensured efficiency and adequate resources to all relevant sectors and will go a long way in helping Nigerians to come out of the economic recession and create growth.
“I want to appreciate the level of consultations and the good working relationship and cooperation that existed with us and the Executive for us to get to this point. This is a remarkable difference from what we saw in 2016 and it shows that the entire country is better for it.
“Lastly we commend all Nigerians, we appreciate their patience and understanding to this point and we believe that the budget we have done this time will bring value to all of us. We have been able to greatly move away from where we are in the past and we continue in our service to ensure that the Executive will see to the implementation of this budget. What we saw in 2016 is commendable on the part of the Executive on implementation and we hope that they will build on that.
“And as for preparing for 2018 it is clear that the minimum of 3 to 4 months is required in other to be able to do a good process and that is why we are appeal on the Executive to ensure that by end of September the latest we can get the 2018 budget so that we can keep to December or January passage.”
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