By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
The Senate has received a written request from President Muhammadu Buhari to present the 2020 Appropriation bill before a joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The request, which was dated October 2, 2019 and addressed to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, was read at plenary on Thursday.
The letter reads: “May I crave the kind indulgence of the Distinguished Senate to grant me the slot of 1400 hours on Tuesday, 8th October, 2019, to formally present the 2020 Appropriation Bill to the Joint session of the National Assembly.
“Please accept, Mr. Senate President, the assurances of my highest regards, as I look forward to addressing the Joint Session”.
Meanwhile, the Senate on Thursday passed the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP).
The document which is usually the basis for the annual budget proposals was forwarded to the National Assembly last week by President Buhari.
The Senate made 16 recommendations to the Executive following consideration of the report of the Joint Committees on Finance and National Planning.
The Senate in its recommendations proposed N10.729 trillion as total estimated Federal government expenditure of the Federal, as against N10.002 trillion.
It also recommended daily oil production of 2.18 million barrels in 2020, as well as $57 per barrel as benchmark for the fiscal year.
Also, the upper chamber recommended that the revenue target of the Nigerian Customs Service of N942.6bn naira for 2020 be increased to N1.5 trillion.
According to the Senate, the sum of N557.4 billion from the revenue increment of the Nigeria Customs Service be used to reduce borrowing by N200 billion increase on capital expenditure.
The Senate left unchanged the exchange rate of N305 to $1, just as proposed by the Executive for economic stability.
It recommended that the saving on income accruing from the increase of the benchmark amounting to N172 billion, which represents the federal government portion of the $2 added to the benchmark, be used to pay salaries and emoluments for the proposed 30,000 new employees by the federal government.
The upper chamber insisted that proper investigation be carried out on the e-collection stamp duty domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria for the past years, so as to show probity and accountability, and of course, increase the revenue base of the country.
The Senate further called for proper investigation on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, so as to ascertain the actual cost associated with joint venture agreements.
In his remarks after the passage of the MTEF/FSP proposals, the Senate President, called on the Federal Inland Revenue to widen its tax net and also stressed the need to diversify the economy.
Lawan said: “We have lost so much ground over the years. Time has come to diversify this economy, oil is becoming something else, it is not going to be a darling of anyone.
“So we need to have an economy that provides jobs for everybody and create wealth. This includes diversifying in agriculture, solid minerals and tourism”, Lawan said.
Senator Lawan also charged committees of the National Assembly to ensure accountability in the procurement process.
“We must ensure that our procurement process is properly monitored. This budget should give us that opportunity.
“There must be efficiency, prudence in the way and manner we do procurement”, Lawan insisted.