Senate has reconvened to consider President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval of the revised 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF and Fiscal Strategy Paper, FSP as well as the Appropriation Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
The bill to amend the 2020 Appropriation Act which scaled second reading was considered immediately after a letter to that effect from President Buhari was read during plenary by the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan.
The Executive, in the bill proposed an estimated N10.51 trillion budget for the 2020 fiscal year to the National Assembly for approval.
The revised figure reflects a downward cut by the federal government from the N10.59 trillion passed in December last year.
Leading debate on the bill, the Senate Leader, Dr. Yahaya Abdullahi, said out of the N10.509trillion Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, N398.505 billion is for statutory transfers while N2.951 trillion is for debt service.
Abdullahi, who represents Kebbi North Senatorial District, also informed that N4.928 trillion is budgeted for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure while the sum of N2.230 trillion is for contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure for the year ending on December 31 as against the earlier passed Appropriation Act of N10.59trillion.
He also informed that personnel and pension cost was retained at N2.83 trillion and N536.72 trillion respectively.
The Senate Leader added that the aggregate amount available for the capital expenditures – exclusive of capital in statutory transfers – in the revised 2020 budget is N2.23 trillion.
According to him, the amount consists of N1.264 trillion for ministries, departments and agencies of government; N100.3 billion for COVID-19 expenditures, N20 billion for capital component for the Special Intervention Programme; N274.85 bullion for other Capital supplementation; N141.17 billion capital budget for Ten GOEs; N42.96 for donor grant funded expenditures and N387.30 billion funded by project-tied loans.
He disclosed that in view of the cut to the national budget, the 2020 Appropriation Act (Amendment) bill is now predicated on Oil production of 1.93 million barrels per day and a benchmark oil price of $35 dollar per barrel.
On the exchange rate, Abdullahi said an upward adjustment was made by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to N360/US$1, adding that, “while the CBN continues to make strenuous efforts to stabilize the exchange rate, it is generally expected that the naira will suffer further devaluation as Nigeria is projected to lose about US$26 billion in oil revenues.”
President Buhari in the letter explained further that aggregate revenue for funding the now revised 2020 budget is N5.09trillion which is 35 per cent or N2.78trillion less than the one passed by the National Assembly and signed into law by him in December 2019.
Part of the N85billion reduced from the earlier approved 2020 budget, is N11billion deducted from the N110billion capital votes allocated to the Judiciary in the previous budget.
The deduction was kicked against by the chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central), during debate on general principles of the revised 2020 Appropriation bill.
Bamidele explained that the earlier votes of N110billion given the judiciary was not in anyway, enough to drive efficiency within the arm of government, let alone, N99billion it is reduced to now.
“Many of the courts have no air conditioners and functional public address system which were expected to be procured through the earlier approved votes.
“I most humbly submit very strongly that the N110billion approved for the arm of government should be retained in the revised proposal if it cannot be increased,” he said.
In his own contribution, Senator Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South) called for caution on the increased external loans taking as according to him, the latest move , has jerked up debt serving for the 2020 fiscal year from N2.4trillion to N3trillion.
He also called for specifics on proposed N213.5billion COVID-19 intervention fund in knowing exact amounts to be expended on what and what.
“Lumping an intervention fund together in a budgetary proposal like this is not good as far as issues of transparency and accountability are concerned.
“The relevant committee that will later interface with officials from the executive arm of government, should ensure that this is done for the purposes of effective and efficient oversights later by the National Assembly,” he said.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, directed the Committee on Appropriations along with Finance to work on it and the MTEF/FSP paper between now and Tuesday next week.
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