The National Assembly has increased the 2018 Appropriation Bill by N508 billion, raising it from N8.612 trillion to N9.120 trillion preparatory to its passage this week.
The jerking up of the budget contradicts the lawmakers’ position, who earlier complained that the figure presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari was bogus and non-implementable.
Yesterday, the House of Representatives endorsed the increase. The approval followed the receipt of the budget report presented by chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Bala Mustapha Dawaki (APC, Kano).
The 2018 Appropriation Bill would be passed today by the House.
There are strong indications that the Senate may also pass the long-awaited 2018 Appropriation Bill this week following the laying of the report on the floor of the Senate yesterday by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Danjuma Goje.
A source close to the Senate Rules and Business Committee told New Telegraph that, to meet the deadline agreed by the National Assembly leadership recently, the Appropriation Bill, which has been harmonized by the House and the Senate joint conference committee, would be considered at the committee of supply and passed either today or tomorrow.
While presenting the budget report, Dawaki requested the House to receive the “report on a Bill for an Act to authorize the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, the total sum of N9,120,334,988,225 only.”
He said from the total amount appropriated, the sum of N530,421,368,624 only was for Statutory Transfers, while the sum of N2,203,835,365,699 only was for Debt Service.
Also, that the sum of N190 billion only is for Sinking Fund for maturing loans, the sum of N3,516,477,902,077 only was for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure, while the sum of N2,869,600,351,825 only was contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure (Exclusive of Capital Expenditure in Statutory Transfers) for the year ending on December 31, 2018.
Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun, who presided over the session, immediately asked lawmakers to get copies of the budget report and study it for subsequent passage.
Lasun said: “Members should pick up copies of the budget tomorrow (Wednesday) morning and we will pass the budget later in the afternoon. If we are not able to finish, we will continue on Thursday.”
He said that the House would have to pass the budget before adjourning tomorrow to enable members participate in the forthcoming state congresses of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Senate and House of Representatives had promised to pass the budget on April 24, but failed to do so, as they said that the reports of the sub-committees of Appropriation Committees were not ready.
There were equal assurances that the budget would be passed in the first week of May, but the promise was not also met due to the inability of the two chambers to get the reports ready.
The Senate had on several occasions accused Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government of not keeping to appointments with the various standing committees to defend their budgets.
Subsequently, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on April 12, mandated the Appropriation Committee to ensure full collation of the reports on the budget latest by April 13.
With the development, the January to December budget cycle would not be obtainable with the 2018 budget.
Buhari had, on November 7, presented a budget of N8.6 trillion before a joint session of the National Assembly.
The President, who announced the 2018 budget as “Budget of Consolidation”, noted that the projected expenditure would propel rapid economic recovery and growth.
He said that with a benchmark of $45 per barrel, at an exchange rate of N305 to a dollar in 2018, the budget would consolidate on the achievements of previous budgets to aggressively steer the economy to the path of steady growth.