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NASS Passes N7.44trn 2017 Budget, Pegs Benchmark at $44 Per Barrel

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By Ahuraka Isah, ADEBIYI ADEDAPO and KAUTHAR ANUMBA-KHALEEL, 

The National Assembly yesterday passed the 2017 appropriation bill of N7.441 trillion into law.

It jerked up the figure by N143 billion against N7.298trillion proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari in December last year when he laid the budget document before the federal legislature.

This is even as the $42.50 oil price benchmark proposed in the budget submitted by the president was also hiked to $44.50 to cater for the N143billion increase.

However, other parameters upon which the budget is predicated like the crude oil production projection of 2.2million barrel per day, N305 exchange rate of Naira to the US dollar and others were retained.

The Appropriation Committee of the Senate and its counterpart in the  House of Representatives separately presented their harmonised reports of the budget for consideration and subsequent passage yesterday.

Major highlights of the budget passed by both chambers after consideration of reports of their Appropriation committees are N7.441 trillion for Aggregate expenditure, N434.412billion for statutory transfers, N1.841 trillion for debt service, N2.9888 for Recurrent expenditure, N2.178 trillion for Capital expenditure and N2.357 trillion, with a Fiscal Deficit of N2.357trillion and the deficit to GDP of 2.18%.

The report indicates that N434.4 billion was approved 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).

In other words, NJC got N30 billion above the N70 billion appropriated above what was approved for it last year.

The seven establishments are to get allocations on first line charge. In practice, the spending details of these offices are not made public.

The item by item breakdowns show that  th Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, having the highest capital vote of N553,713,857,113, is followed by Ministry of Defence, with capital vote of N139,294,920,350. Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development         got a total of 103,793,201,010; Federal Ministry of Niger Delta has N34,201,500,001; Federal Ministry of Interior got 63,760,562,487; Ministry of Education, 56,720,969,147 and Federal Ministry of Health, 55,609,880,120.

Other breakdown of the budget shows that the State House has 20,066,000,000; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF),             32,778,490,342; Auditor General for the Federation, 90,509, 818; Ministry of Budget and National Planning,             4,092,773,627; Federal Ministry of Environment, 12,479,369,455; Federal Ministry of Finance                5,181,348,624; Ministry of Foreign Affairs 10,291,783,534; Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment , 81,726,971,059; Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, 9,546,245,04; Federal Ministry of Interior, 63,760,562,487; Federal Ministry of Justice, 12,705,755,001; Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment                8,803,520,400; Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development             12,455,000,000; Federal Capital Territory Administration  30,397,122,87; Federal Ministry of Niger Delta    34,201,500,001; Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources 6,793,128,647.

Tge Federal Ministry of Science and Technology got 41,699,655,490; Federal Ministry of Transportation, 241,709,000,000; Federal Ministry of Water Resources    104,245,803,11; Federal  Ministry of Women Affairs, 4,250,732,000; Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing    553,713,857,113; Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development      5,441,000,000; Fiscal Responsibility Commission 148,155,391; Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC)     767,865,170

Infrastructure Concessionary and Regulatory Commission (ICRC)      got        34,310,245;

Federal Ministry of Communications Technology              8,434,669,142; National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission                163,121,916; Office of the National Security Adviser         47,209,203,765; Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation          1,974,176,735.

 House Passes 2017 Budget, warns against unauthorised alteration

Also, he House of Representatives yesterday passed the 2017 Appropriation bill, with an approval of an aggregate expenditure of N7.441 trillion for the fiscal year.

Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, however, warned chairmen of all standing committees against altering any figure as contained in the details made available to members without recourse to the entire House.

He said, “It is expected that all members of standing committees must have signed their respective budget reports before they were accepted by the committee on Appropriations. No figure should therefore change. If there is any need for change, it has to come to the floor to maintain the integrity of this government”.

When the Speaker read out the budget  clause-by-clause for consideration of the bill, members protested against the N84.7 billion Recurrent and Capital budget of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

The shout of No No No rented the air when the Speaker mentioned the item with the SGF’s budget, but it was eventually passed unamended.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly yesterday disclosed that it allocated funds running into several billions of naira for projects  of national importance that were not included in the 2017 Appropriations Bill proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari in December last year.

The legislature passed the budget estimates after consideration by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, raising the budget from N7.28 billion to N7.44 trillion.

Besides, the National Assembly, in the harmonized reports of the budget report submitted by both chambers, also reduced allocations to some ministries, agencies and departments, MDAs and as well allocated funds for others not captured by the executive in the budget.

Briefing journalists after passage of the budget, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje explained that the 2017 budget was raised by the National Assembly “as a result of increased revenue coming to the government and the benchmark of $44.5 per barrel production of oil as against $42.5 proposed by the executive”.

According to Goje, N10billion was allocated for the take-off of second runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja by the federal government.

Similarly, he said the rehabilitation of Abeokuta Airport in Ogun State got N4billion so as to provide alternative for the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja in anticipation of any rehabilitation works in the former in future.

“We consider the rehabilitation of the Abeokuta Airport to serve as alternative to the international airport in Ikeja. Last time when Abuja airport runway was undergoing rehabilitation, Kaduna Airport, being the nearest was used as alternative airport”, he explained.

Goje also informed that the National Assembly earmarked N10billion for the completion of railway line project linking Ajaokuta Iron Steel Project in Kogi state to Aladja in Delta State, adding that N5billion was also given for the completion of Baro Inland Waterways.

To sustain the ongoing peace in the Niger Delta region, he further said that N10billion was added to the budget of N65billion proposed for the amnesty programme by the executive.

Also speaking, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said N25billion was added to the executive’s proposal in order to ensure that road networks in the country are good enough for transportation services.

Abdullahi added that all issues of the economic recovery and growth, budget deficit and allowances of youth corps members were carefully considered by the National Assembly in this year’s appropriation bill.

He said the National Assembly has done its best on the budget and advised the executive to ensure thorough implementation for the benefit of Nigerians.

Earlier commenting on passage of the budget, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, commended the Appropriations Committee and all the sub-committees members for doing a thorough job on the budget.

Saraki described efforts at getting stakeholders’ contributions to the budget during public hearings, laying of the estimates with details and making it available to the public as good achievements.

He said, “I am very proud for what we have been able to achieve and we do hope that this budget of recovery has 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 between 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”.

The senate president however stressed the for the executive to present the 2018 appropriation bill as early as September so that legislative works could be done on it and passed by latest by January 2019.

 

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