- Says N246b padding in tandem with presidency
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi, Musa Adamu and Christiana Ekpa
The Senate yesterday passed N10.594 trillion as the 2020 budget, raising by N246 billion the figure of N10.33 trillion originally presented by President Muhammadu Buhari on October 8.
The chairman and Vice chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee, Barau Jubril (APC, Kano) and Stella Odua (PDP, Anambra) briefing journalists, defended the additional N246 billion the lawmakers injected into the budget.
He described the budgeting process as the best so far because it is the first time the executive, the Senate and House of Representatives came together on a roundtable to agree on a document as budget of the country.
He defended the N264 billion increase in the 2020 budget as not padding of the appropriation bill but that the additional fund was brought in, in conjunction and consultation with the executive.
Denying that the extra funds injected was a padding, Senator Jibrin Barau said the word padding is alien to the 9th Senate because the infusion of additional vote for capital projects was done in collaboration with the executive arm of government.
According to him, the Senate saw avenue to make additional revenue and only fixed the expected increase in revenue to sectors in need of more funding.
He said “In a presidential system of government, there is room for checks on what any arm of government is doing by the other. President Buhari no doubt presented a perfect budget, but it is our own responsibility as the parliament to critically look at what was presented by the executive and make corrections where necessary.
“During the course of deliberating on the budget, we saw opportunities of where we can get additional income for the government and we deployed them to areas that need further spending.
“The National Assembly has the right to do it and that is what we have done”, he said.
Presenting the report, Senator Barau Jibrin said the increase of N264bn allowed for interventions in critical areas such as national security, road infrastructure, mines and steel development, health, among others.
Senator Jubrin said the Statutory Transfer stood at N560.5bn, recurrent expenditure-N4.8bn, capital expenditure-N2.5bn, debt servicing-N2.7bn, fiscal deficit-N2.3trn and deficit to GDP of 1.52 per cent.
He pointed out that daily oil production stood at 2.18 million barrels per day, Oil Benchmark stood at $57 per barrel against $55 proposed by the Executive, while the exchange rate stood at N305 per dollar.
Capital Expenditure for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) for the 2020 fiscal year are: Ministry of Defence N116,181,290,730; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, N7,608,141,474; Ministry of Information and Culture, N7,555,803,233; Ministry of Interior, N34,035,825,302; Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, N1,722,796,040; Ministry of Police Affairs, N15,959,986,864; Ministry of Communication Technology, N5,919,002,554; and Office of the National Security Adviser, N27,418,469,323.
Others are: Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, N25,188,940,930; Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, N2,158,620,395; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, N124,395,096,917; Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, N4,976,199,925; Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, N38,583,331,761; Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, N24,445,756,678; Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, N62,882,531,566; Federal Ministry of Transport, N121,366,932,571; and Federal Ministry of Aviation, N52,061,533,122.
Also, for the 2020 fiscal year, the Ministry of Power has an allocation of N129,082,499,363; Ministry of Petroleum Resources, N3,337,444,887; Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, N10,431,563,177; Ministry of Works and Housing, N315,563,564,269; Ministry of Water Resources, N91,679,927,042; Ministry of Justice, N3,853,600,220; Federal Capital Territory Administration, N62,407,154,360; and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, N23,120,350,399.
Others include: Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, N3,735,486,210; Military of Women Affairs, N6,650,300,966; Federal Ministry of Education, N84,728,529,572; Ministry of Health, N59,909,430,837; Federal Ministry of Environment, N12,350,140,731; and Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, N61,085,146,003.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his concluding remarks after the 2020 budget was passed, said, “when we came in, all of us approved our legislative agenda, and one of the key pillars of this agenda is to take back our budget cycle from the very undesirable cycle that can not be defined to something that can be defined and bought into by our country and business partners living in and outside the country.
“Today, we have been able to achieve this. It means where there is will, there is always a way. This is something that we have been able to achieve together with the House of Representatives.”
The Senate President also noted that with the recent passage of landmark legislations such as the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) Act, Finance Bills and Public Procurement Bills by the National Assembly, the executive arm of government is sufficiently empowered to ensure the successful implementation of the 2020 budget.