Supplementary Appropriation Bill of N465.6billion forwarded to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari last week for approval, yesterday passed second reading in the Senate.
To fast track its approval, the upper legislative chamber directed its Committee on Appropriation headed by Senator Mohammad Danjuma Goje (APC Gombe Central), to work on the supplementary bill and submit report to it next week for passage into law.
The decision to ‎pass the supplementary budget was to facilitate the efforts to pay the outstanding subsidy claims of N413.3 billion to marketers.
Leading debate on the bill, the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume expressed belief that all the proposals in the Supplementary Appropriation are laudable and would enhance the critical needs of Nigerians.
“Mr. President, my highly respected colleagues, the 2015 Supplementary Appropriation Bill is unique in every respect. For this Senate, it is the first Bill from the President C-in-C, and for me, the very first Executive Bill to lead its debate as Senate Leader of the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and for the critical issues it seeks to address,” Ndume said.
At the debate of the general principles of the appropriation bill yesterday, Senators agreed that the bill be speedily processed to complement the efforts of the Executive arm of government in resolving the crisis generated by the delay in the payment of the subsidy claims.
President Muhammadu Buhari in his request for approval of the supplementary budget of N465, 636, 926, 857, sought for the payment of petroleum subsidy claims amounting to N413, 363, 134, 505.
The N465. 6 billion supplementary budget proposal is made up of N460.6 for additional recurrent (non-debt) expenditure while the balance of N5 billion is for capital expenditure.
The supplementary budget is predicated on oil production of 2.2003 million barrels per day, oil benchmark price of $48 per barrel and an exchange rate of N190 to US$1.
It also showed security provision of N29,958,865,512, subsidy sum of N413,363,134,505 as well as payment of severance gratuity and allowances of outgone and incoming legislators and legislative aides totalling N10,618,837,435.
The breakdown includes: operation Lafia Dole and others (N39.65 billion), provision for prison rations, feeding for Unity Schools and others (N2 billion), provision for balance of severance gratuity and allowances of outgoing and incoming legislator plus legislative aides (N10.62 billion) and emergency provision for subsidy claims (N413.64 billion).
“Given this new level of expenditure and revenue constraint, the 2015 budget, which had a projected fiscal deficit of N1.041 trillion (or -1.09 percent of GDP) with the deficit largely financed by the domestic borrowing of N502.1 billion and foreign borrowing of N380 billion (total borrowing amounting to N882.12 billion), calls for additional borrowing.
“The expected deficit arising from the above is projected at N2.103 trillion (or 2.19 percent of GDP) to be financed by additional borrowing of N1.601 trillion through the Debt Management Office, DMO.
“Accordingly, I deem it necessary to formally request the concurrence of the National Assembly to please consider and approve: an upward review of the fiscal deficit from 1.09 percent of GDP to 2.19 percent of GDP, an upward revision of the new borrowing from N882.1 billion to N2.103 trillion, a new funding requirement to address security challenges and other important obligations with the sum of N465.64 billion,” Buhari added.
Senate however rejected calls to invite President Muhammadu Buhari to address the Senate in his capacity as Petroleum Minister over the lingering problem of petroleum scarcity.
Some Senators belonging to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had argued that the Senate should summon the substantive petroleum minister to explain the steps being taken to address the key issues in the petroleum sector but were overruled by the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who cautioned Senators against bringing partisan politics into national development issues.‎

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