The Senate on Tuesday at its plenary passed the 2015 Appropriation Bill for N4.493 trillion expenditure from the consolidated fund of the Federation, representing an increase of N134.5 billion over the N4.357 billion proposed by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
It would be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan, through the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on December 17, 2014, presented to the two chambers of the National Assembly a proposed budget estimate of N4.357 trillion.
The House of Representatives had last week passed the Bill, increasing expenditure by N135.4 billion or 3.1 per cent, to N4.493 trillion, The Senate’s version, which is lower than last year’s N4.64 trillion, was based on a benchmark oil price of $53 per barrel, higher than the $52 it proposed in February, but lower than $77.5 last year, amidst weaker global crude prices.
The passage is coming barely 32 days to the end of the Jonathan administration.
According to the breakdown, recurrent expenditure got N2.607 trillion, leaving just N556.995 billion for capital expenditure. Also, N952.62 billion was appropriated for Debts Servicing, while Statutory Transfers stood at N375.616 billion.
The allocated N21.03 billion for Sure-P; Fiscal Deficit stood at N1.075 trillion, translating to a deficit-GDP ratio of 1.12 per cent.
Meanwhile the major difference in the amount (N425,425.93 billion) in the original report and the final amount (N4,493,363,957,158) passed on Tuesday affected only the statutory transfers, which was rose from N366.280 billion to N375.616 billion.
According to the two documents, Niger Delta Development Commission’s allocation was raised to N46.720 billion; that of the Universal Basic Education was increased from to N68.380 billion; and the National Assembly from N115 billion to N120 billion;
Meanwhile, the Senate retained the sums of N73 billion for the National Judicial Council and N62 billion for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Further detailed review of the allocation shows that while money was assign to subsidy on petroleum products, Education got lion share of the budget with the total sum of N392,363,784,654 to rank highest, Defence and Police got N388,797,219,431 and N303,822,224,611 respectively.
Speaking on budget after its passage, Senate President David Mark cautioned the incoming administration to ensure the full implementation of the budget as it is anchored on the present economic realities in the global oil market to ensure that the poor masses of his country reap the full benefit of their mandate to the new administration.
Commenting, Chairman Senate Committee on Public Account, Ahmad Lawan (APC- Yobe North) said: “The constitutional provision is that we should have even passed the budget before now, but due to the exigencies of this period, we have just passed it and we have done our constitutional duty very well, but I believe that the incoming administration will very swiftly bring a request for a supplementary budget and because it is going to be a progressive government of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, this supplementary budget will try to balance between the capital allocation that will be very much require in Nigeria and the recurrent.
“The budget we have just passed is five to one against the capital allocation when we just have about N500 billion against N2.6 trillion that is going to recurrent. So we are going to do a review definitely because the incoming administration will have to bring something of that nature for a supplementary request,” he added
He however noted that though government will have the finances to finance this budget, it is still an estimate, urging Nigerians to pray that oil prices will continue to rise.
Also contributing, Senator Olubumni Adetunbi expressed optimism that the incoming government will probably make changes in form of supplementary budget in line with the policy of cutting cost of governance, adding “ because the budget is twenty percent for capital the rest is recurrent.”
For Senator Ganiyu Solomon, implementing the budget will pose a problem to the incoming administration.
Source: Daily Independent