The Senate yesterday passed into law the 2014 Appropriation Bill of N4.695 trillion, with the earlier proposed figure by the executive arm to the National Assembly last year December, jacked up by N52.2billion.
President Goodluck Jonathan had on the 19th December, 2013 through the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr.(Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, presented a budget of N4.642trillion, which was reviewed by the Senate to accommodate an aggregate expenditure of N4.695, 190, 000, 000 trillion that accounts for the raise.
Also, while the executive in the budget proposals fixed $74.00per barrel as bench mark oil price for the budget, the Senate upped same to $77.5 per barrel as earlier reached between the harmonisation committees of both chambers during the course of consideration.
But other parameters like estimated crude oil production of 2.3883million barrel per day, GDP growth rate of 6.75%, inflation rate of 9.5% and exchange rate of N160 to one US Dollar tallied with the ones approved by the Senate in the budget passed.
Out of the entire N4.695 trillion aggregate expenditure profile of the budget passed, N408, 687,801, 891 billion is meant for statutory transfers, N712 billion for debt servicing, N2.454 trillion for recurrent expenditure and N1.119 trillion for capital expenditure.
During the clause by clause consideration of the budget profiles by the Senate, many of the Senators expressed stiff opposition to the N7 billion appropriated for the ongoing National Conference, a position which the Senate President ruled in favour of those who argued to the contrary.
The chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Ahmad Maccido, in his presentation of the committee’s report said: “Unspent funds that are rolled over into the economy only make a mockery of development which is a dire necessity across the nation”, adding that government must be seen to be taking steps to improve on this.
“The 2014 budget which is described as one of job creation and inclusive growth, deserves to urgently rise to the occasion to defend itself, in view of the yawning gap between employment created and the army of the unemployed”, he added.
On his part, Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC Yobe North) who came through Senate Order 25 (b&f) to object the meagre proposal of N2 billion intervention fund in the troubled north east region , and requested for the rejection of the appropriated sum which he posited was grossly insufficient to meet the region’s needs.
The lawmaker questioned the rationale behind retaining meagre sum by the Senate Committee on Appropriation and Finance.
But the Senate President David Mark, prevailed by pleading with him to allow the little amount already appropriated to be passed with a promise that the National Assembly will liaise with the executive for provision of more funds in that direction.
In his remarks after the passage of the budget, the Senate President said: “I hope and pray that the executive will work hard as we have done here in the National Assembly on this budget by ensuring its thorough implementation for the general good of all Nigerians.”