By Olusegun Emmanuel, Abuja.
The Senate today passed the 2014 Appropriation Bill of N4.695, 190 trillion into law even as the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation submitted its report on the bill preparatory to its final passage.
The figure passed by the senate is N53 billion higher than the proposed N4.642 by executive.
Following the passage of the 2014 budget Wednesday, the Upper Chamber advised the Executive to ensure full implementation of the budget as passed by the lawmakers.
Before the clause by clause consideration of the budget, the opposition party comprising All Progressive Congress had move against its consideration, but Senate President, Senator David Mark ruled against them.
The breakdown shows that out of the total budget passed for the 2014 fiscal year, N2,454,887,566,702 trillion was for recurrent expenditure, N1,119,614,631,407 trillion was for capital expenditure, N408,687,801,891 billion was for statutory transfer and N712 billion for debt service.
It would be recalled that the Executive presented a budget proposal of N4,642,960 trillion to the National Assembly last year for consideration and passage.
The budget estimates also include the N268,370 billion which is for the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme, SURE-P, a component of the budget. This amount did not form part of the aggregate budget figure of N4,642,960 as proposed by the executive which was however captured in the final compilation of the Bill.
In preparing the details of the 2014 Bill, the Committee adopted a benchmark price of $77.50 per barrel of crude oil. The Committee also adopted the Executive proposal of crude oil production of 2.3883 million barrels per day (mbpd) and an exchange rate of N160 to US$1.
The clause by clause consideration of the bill was going on smoothly until it got to a request for approval of N7 billion for ongoing National Conference, which triggered reactions from the APC senators many of who echoed against it consideration.
But, it took a swift intervention of the Senate President who systematically prevented the APC senators from stalling the process.
Also,Senator Ahmad Lawan questioned why the Senate Committee on Appropriation and Finance retained the meager N2billion proposed in the Budget by the executive as intervention fund for the North Eastern States under the scourge of insurgency despite serious opposition made against it by many Senators at the level of debate of general principles of the budget.
Ahmad who came through Senate Order 25 (b&f) to raise the objection, requested for rejection of the appropriation but the Senate President pleaded 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.
Earlier in his presentation of the budget profile report to the Senate for approval, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Ahmad Maccido submitted that the appalling state of budget implementation in the country was still a worrying recurring decimal for our economy.
According to him, “Unspent funds that are rolled over into the economy only makle 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 the occasion to defend itself, in view of the yawning gap between employment created and the army of the unemployed”, he added.
In his remarks after the passage of the budget by the Senate, the Senate President, David Mark, 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”.