Revised 2020 budget suffers set back in Senate over N186bn omission | Dailytrust

Revised 2020 budget suffers set back in Senate over N186bn omission

The Senate, on Tuesday, stepped down the consideration of the N10.509trillion revised 2020 budget forwarded to it for consideration by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Upper Chamber and the House of Representatives had, last week, passed the revised 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).

The federal legislature increased the price of crude to $28 per barrel as against the $25 proposed by the executive.

It, however, slashed the daily oil production output to 1.8 million barrels as against the 1.9 million proposed by the federal government.

The N360/US $1 as proposed in the MTEF amendment was sustained.

But the revised budget proposal was stepped down at the Senate over the refusal of the Budget office to capture the entire N500 billion intervention fund for COVID-19 in the appropriation bill.

Chairman of the Appropriation Committee, Jibrin Barau (APC Kano North), told the plenary that while N314billion was captured as part of the intervention fund, the balance of N186 billion proposed for the health sector was omitted.

“Upon making such observation at the committee level, we quickly inform the budget office of the omission last week.

“The budget office as part of excuses given for the omission said since the entire N500billion was captured in the MTEF/FSP documents already passed by the Senate, that there was no need for it to be fully captured in the budget.

“But we rejected that excuse in line with sections 80 and 81 of the 1999 Constitution which empowers the National Assembly to appropriate every single Kobo for the executive before spending.

“On the strength of our superior argument, the budget office admitted wrongness of the omission but promised to write a letter to us to be used as evidence of helping them to include it.

“But the expected letter never came till now, making us not to be ready for the presentation of any report now.

“If by the end of today (Tuesday), the office still refuses to send the letter to us, we shall be left with no other alternative than to print out our report today based on proposals contained in the Appropriation bill for consideration in plenary tomorrow (Wednesday),” he said.

Responding to this, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said; “the Senate hereby advise those responsible for the budget documents and expected letter to do the needful without further delay.

“They need to be meticulous and responsible.

“The National Assembly cannot be a destination where a lack of efficiency on somebody’s job would be entertained.

“If we put figures without documents, they will accuse us of padding.

“We must have the documents printed today unfailingly, lay it tomorrow and give it final consideration on Thursday.”