House of Representatives yesterday passed the 2015 Budget of N4.493 trillion, an upward review of about N200 billion from the N4.3 trillion presented to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Nigerian Pilot recalls that before the House adjourned plenary on March 12, 2015, the Deputy House spokesman, Hon. Victor Ogene, had assured Nigerians that the budget would be passed as soon as it reconvenes on March 31, 2015.
Ogene hinted that the Conference Committee of both chambers had met and agreed on $53 per barrel oil benchmark.
He said the Appropriation Committees of both the Senate and House will meet with the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and other relevant agencies of government to fine-tune the budget.
According to him, “The Conference Committee of both the Senate and House have met and agreed on $53 per barrel. The Appropriation Committees of both chambers will now meet with the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to fine-tune the budget.
“This was why the budget was not passed. The work on the budget is still ongoing and will be passed on resumption of the House on March 31.”
The budget report, which was earlier laid on the floor of the House on Wednesday, was eventually passed yesterday after the clause-to-clause consideration.
The major difference in the amount (N425,425,930,000) stated on Wednesday’s report and the final amount (N4,493,363,957,158) passed yesterday affected only the Statutory Transfers which was raised from N366.280 billion to N375.616 billion.
According to the two documents, Niger Delta Development Commission’s allocation was raised from N45.780 billion to N46.720 billion; Universal Basic Education’s allocation was raised from N67.3 billion to N68.380 billion; National Assembly’s allocation was raised from N115 billion to N120 billion; Public Complaint Commission’s allocation was raised from N2 billion to N4 billion while National Human Right Commission’s allocation was raised from N1.2 billion to N1.516 billion.
The sum of N498,428,999,699 was set aside for capital expenditure of various ministries, departments and agencies in addition to the sum of N144.420 billion as capital expenditure in statutory transfers.
From the total sum of N953.62 billion approved for debt servicing, the sum of N894.610 billion is for domestic debt, while N59.010 is for foreign debts.
Meanwhile, the House retained the sums of N73 billion for the National Judicial Council, NJC and N62billion for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Shortly before the passage of the budget, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. John Enoh, had explained at the Committee of Supply that the appeal for an urgent action with regards to capital allocation became necessary due to the near zero vote for capital expenditure occasioned by falling oil revenue.
Enoh argued that almost all the MDAs had zero allocation for capital in the 2015 appropriation, adding that it was a perfect recipe for abandonment of ongoing projects and non-commencement of new ones.
”In looking at the budget, having adjusted the benchmark to $53 and adopted same by the conference committee of both the House and the Senate, we found that the proportion between recurrent and capital was so bad.
”So we pleaded with the federal government and by extension, the incoming one to reduce the gap between recurrent and capital by increasing capital votes using supplementary appropriation.
”However, the adjustment made still did not make any significant difference as the gap still remained highly visible.
”On the basis of that, it was our suggestion that federal government as a matter of urgency propose a supplementary appropriation that will be aimed at boosting the capital expenditure as the basis for achieving projected development drive and job creation.
”So I urge my colleagues to support and help to pass this budget’’, Enoh asserted.
The House has adjourned plenary to May 5, 2015.