Senate passes 2020 budget as Reps explain appropriation hike

The Senate has passed the 2020 budget  into law, two months after President Muhammadu Buhari submitted it to a joint session of the National Assembly.

It was increased from N10.33 trillion presented by President Muhammadu Buhari on October 8 to N10.6 trillion (10,594,362,364,830).

The N560.47 billion added is for statutory transfers (a category into which the National Assembly budget falls).

While the Senate maintained Nigeria’s daily oil production rate at 2.18 million per barrel, it, however, increased the oil benchmark price to $57 per barrel against the $55 proposed by the Executive.

The Appropriation committee retained the inflation rate at 10.81 per cent and the exchange rate at N305-$1 as proposed by the executive.

It also retained GDP Growth Rate at 2.93 per cent as proposed.

Chairman, Barau Jibrin, said the committee worked harmoniously with the Executive for the processing of the bill.

He explained the increase allows for intervention in critical areas like security, infrastructure, mines and steel development, social development, among others.

According to him, the position is in line with the budget thrust of the government. “It is focused on growing development and sustainable growth,” he added.

He also said the committee adopted the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) as approved by the National Assembly in October.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his concluding remarks after the budget was passed, said: “When we came in, all of us approved our legislative agenda, and one of the key pillars of the agenda is to take back our budget cycle from the very undesirable cycle that cannot be defined to something that can be defined and bought into by our country and business partners living in and outside the country.

“Today, we have been able to achieve this. It means where there is will, there is always a way. This is something that we have been able to achieve together with the House of Representatives.

“I must give members of the ninth National Assembly credit, because we thought it was going to be impossible.

“Let me also commend the buying-in of the executive arm of government. When we continued to preach that we have to receive the 2020 budget estimates before the end of September, it was not easy for the executive.

“I know they (Executive) worked day and night. So it was presented to us on the 8th of October. We have been able to work harmoniously. There is no way we can achieve this without all of us working together.”

The Senate President also noted that with the recent passage of landmark legislations such as the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) Act, Finance Bills and Public Procurement Bills by the National Assembly, the Executive arm of government is sufficiently empowered to ensure the successful implementation of the 2020 budget.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has said the increase in the size of the budget is an indication that the parliament scrutinised the estimates presented to it by President Buhari.

Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, who described the early passage as a milestone, said the National Assembly had done its part in the appropriation process.

According to him, the House and by extension, the National Assembly has kept his promise to the country to pass the Appropriation Bill in good time.  He noted that the ball is now in the court of the executive arm, especially as it concerns the implementation of the budget.

Reacting, the All Progressives Congress (APC) described the early passage as a development that will return Nigeria to the normal January to December budget cycle.

The ruling party in a statement signed by the APC National Publicity Secretary Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said it was another milestone of the Buhari-led administration.

While commending the efforts of the National Assembly members, the national leadership of the party, described it as a departure from the 8th National Assembly that used filibustering, political manipulation and other devious practices in their failed attempt to sabotage the APC government.

According to the statement; “APC is elated at the early passage of the 2020 Budget by the 9th National Assembly, a development that is sure to return Nigeria to the normal January to December budget cycle. This is another solid milestone by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration.

“The party commends both chambers of the National Assembly – Senate and House of Representatives – for putting national interest before any other interest. It was a clean departure from the 8th National Assembly which used filibustering, political manipulation and other devious practices in their failed attempt to sabotage the APC government.

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