*Earmarks N23bn as gratuity, allowances for lawmakers
*Budget implementation to last for 12months
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi, Musa Adamu, Christiana Ekpa and Umar Puma
National Assembly yesterday passed N8.916,964,099,373 trillion as budget expenditure for 2019 fiscal year, adding an extra N90,327,520,458 billion to the N8.826,636,578,915trillion originally sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 18 last year.
In the approved budget, the federal lawmakers also earmarked N23.7 billion as severance package for themselves and their aides, including allowances for incoming lawmakers and their aides, and as well the inauguration of 9th session of the National Assembly.
Other key approvals in the budget as passed by the National Assembly are N10 billion as intervention fund for humanitarian aids to displaced persons in Zamfara State, N66billion extra for security agencies to fight the rising cases of banditry, kidnapping and general killings across the country, with special emphasis on Zamfara State.
NASS further approved N1billion as severance benefit for retired heads of government agencies and parastatals, including N4.5billion as benefits for retired heads of service and permanent secretaries and professors. It also approved N23billion as entitlements for former Presidents/Heads of States and Vice Presidents/Chief of General Staff.
Presenting the report of the Senate Committee on Appropriation which worked on the appropriation document, Chairman of the Committee,
Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe Central), said the budget as passed is aimed at consolidating the economic recovery and growth plans of the government.
Goje explained further that in implementing the just approved N30,000 minimum wage for public servants, the N160billion proposed as service wide votes was appropriated for under the Public Service wage adjustment for Ministries, Department and Agencies ( MDAs).
He recalled that a one day public hearing was held on the 2019 budget to get additional inputs from heads of government agencies, governance and citizens groups. Senator Goje said the Committee worked on the budget using parameters of two million, three hundred thousand barrel per day oil production capacity.
Others are: $60 per barrel oil benchmark, as well as exchange rate of N305 to a dollar. He said further that the budget will last for twelve months, starting from the day it is signed by the President into law.
Highlight of the N8.916 trillion budget are: N502,058,892,965 billion for statutory transfer, N500 billion for special intervention, N4,055,840,383,684 trillion for recurrent expenditure, N2,094,950,709,632 trillion for capital expenditure, N1,908,475,049,742 trillion for fiscal deficit.
The approved budget also has N15billion for universities support, N51billion for basic health care fund, N21billion for immunization, N150billion for power sector reform programme, N20billion for contribution to international organizations, N4billion for TSA operations, N4billion for international sports competitions.
Others are: N350billion as special intervention programme, N2billion for project monitoring, N65billion for Presidential Amnesty Programme, N75billion for military operations for Lafiya Dole and other Operations of the Armed Forces.
Statutory Transfers in the budget are: N110billion for National Judicial Council (NJC), N100,188,921,129 billion for Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), N112,471,421,836billion for Universal Basic Education (UBEC), N128billion for National Assembly,
N4,398,550,000billion for Public Complaint Commission, N45,500,000,000 for INEC, and N1,500,000,000 billion for National Human Rights Commission.
Within the capital expenditure component of the budget, N394.906billion is earmarked for the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, N107.218billion for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, N159.125billion for Ministry of Defence and N92.178bn for Ministry of Water Resources.
Others are, N58.689bn for Ministry of Education, N179.384bn for Ministry of Transportation, N53.678billion for Ministry of Interior.
However in the recurrent expenditure component of the budget, the Ministry of Interior has the highest appropriated votes of N564.222billion, followed by Ministry of Education with N463.395billion.