As the Senate resumes plenary today after the Christmas and New Year recess, deliberations will be centered on the 2016 Appropriation Bill, Constitutional Amendment and the Petroleum Industrial Bill, PIB, among others.
Senate spokesman, Aliyu Sabi, said at the weekend that “our priority is the 2016 Appropriation Bill. Other is¬sues are the PIB, Constitu¬tional Amendment, electoral reform and other people-ori¬ented legislations and over¬sight of MDAs.”
Stakeholders said the National Assembly has a lot of work to do on the N6.08 trillion 2016 budget in or¬der to make it implementa¬ble, in view of the emerging unfavourable global econom¬ic trends.
For instance, the feder¬al government proposed a benchmark of $38 per barrel of crude oil and an exchange rate of N197 to $1, but the price of oil has fallen to $34 per barrel, while the naira currently ex¬changes for N280 for $1.
After examining these unstable components of the budget, Senator Sabi, who is the Chairman, Senate Com¬mittee on Media and Publici¬ty, said the Red Chamber will work on the bill to ensure that its provisions conform to the present economic reali¬ties in the country.
He added that the Senate will examine the benchmark with a view to approving a realistic figure in the face of the falling price of crude oil in the inter¬national market.
Sabi said the intention of the upper chamber to speedily pass the budget notwithstanding, it would be comprehensive in scrutinising the bill to avoid giving the country a budg¬et that would be counterpro¬ductive.
“The reality is on the issue of timing; yesterday’s and today’s reality will surely be different and we should know that the budget is an estimate and in making those estimates we are going to be as realistic as possible. So what I want to assure you is that when we resume from recess, the budget will be a pri-ority and we are going to give it expeditious attention.”
The budget had be¬come controversial in the last two weeks, after its presenta¬tion to the joint session of the National Assembly on Decem¬ber 22 by President Mu¬hammadu Buhari.

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