Reps pass N10.805tr revised 2020 budget

  • Estimate up by N296b
  • Buhari’s $5.513b loan request gets nod
  • Senate considers revised estimates today

THE House of Representatives yesterday  passed the revised 2020 budget sent to it by  President Muhammadu Buhari. It however increased it to N10.805 trillion.

The House, which   approved a  $5.513 billion external loan request by Buhari,  increased the budget by about N296 billion.

The Senate is expected to also pass the budget today.

Buhari had, in a letter to both chambers of the National Assembly, requested the members to review the 2020 appropriation to N10.59 trillion.

The appropriation for the National Assembly was retained at N128 billion as contained in the original 2020 budget passed in last December as against the N115 billion contained in the revised budget sent by Buhari.

Considering the budget on the floor of the House yesterday, the lawmakers included N4 billion in the service wide vote to address the grievances of resident doctors who are threatening to embark on industrial action.

Statutory transfer got N42.775 billion, N4.938 trillion  is for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure and  N2.488 trillion  for contribution to development fund for capital project.

The Ministry of Works and Housing tops the capital budget vote with N265.868 billion, followed by Ministry of Power with N128 billion and Defence with N115 billion.

The Ministries of Transportation and Agriculture were allocated N109 billion and N102 billion while their Health counterpart got N51 billion.

Ministries of Education and Water Resources as well as the Presidency received  N75 billion, N80 billion and N15 billion for capital projects, while N20 billion was budgeted for special intervention in the universities.

The House barred  the Minister of Finance, Amina Ahmed, from withholding any cash from any agency, without the nod of the National Assembly.

It said: “The Minister of Finance shall ensure that funds appropriated under this Act are released to the appropriate agencies and/or organ of government as and when due, provided that no funds for any quarter of the fiscal year shall be deferred without prior waiver from the National Assembly.”

The House also approved   N110 billion for the National Judicial Council;  N51 billion for the Universal Basic Education Commission and N36 billion  for  the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The government is to spend   N2.951 trillion on debt servicing, out of which N1.873billion is for local debt servicing and N805.470 million  for  foreign debt payments.

Justifying the increase in the budget, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation,  Muktar Batara, said while considering the submitted estimate,  they  received request from the Executive to include some omitted projects in the estimate.

These projects include COVID-19 intervention fund of N213.977 billion, Contingency recurrent of N22 billion, contingency capital of N15 billion and Global Alliance for Immunization of N4 billion.

He said that in the course of its assignment, the committee worked in close collaboration with other stakeholders, including its counterpart in the Senate.

The House also approved the request of the President to borrow the sum of N5.513 to fund the 2020 revised budget deficit.

The approved loan request indicate that the government is to borrow $3.4 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), $1.5 billion from the World Bank, $500 million from the African Development Bank and $113 million from the Islamic Development Bank.

The Senate had earlier passed the loan request by the President.

The  loan has  a maturity period of between five to 30  years with a grace period of three to five years.

Meanwhile, the Senate may today  consider and pass the same  budget,   Senate President Ahmad Lawan gave this indication at plenary in Abuja   after the  Committee on Appropriations laid the report on the budget yesterday.

“Tomorrow, we can receive and consider the report to ensure that we don’t delay anything as important as that. So, this is the essence of altering the order paper,” Lawan said.

The Senate had on Tuesday deferred the laying of the document over failure by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to include a shortfall of N186 billion as part of the N500 billion COVID-19 intervention fund .

Chairman of the   committee, Senator Barau Jibrin, had explained that Ahmed  did not send the letter to make up for the shortfall in the Bill as agreed with the committee.

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