National Assembly passes 2017 budget

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

Nigeria’s National Assembly has passed the 2017 Appropriation Bill of 7.441 trillion Naira as recommended by the joint committee on Appropriations and finance.

The passage of the Bill followed clause by clause consideration of the committee’s report which was presented during Thursday’s plenary by chairman of the joint appropriations committee, Senator Danjuma Goje.

The 7.441 trillion Naira passed by the legislators, represents over 200 billion Naira compared to the sum of 7.29 trillion Naira submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari in his proposal last December.

That the senate do consider the report of the committee on appropriations on the 2017 Appropriations Bill,’” Senator Goje submitted.

He also confirmed that the increase in the budget from the original amount proposed by the President was necessitated by the need to facilitate the development of some critical infrastructure across the country.

Some of the infrastructure includes the Ajaokuta-Itakpe-Delta rail line, the second runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport in Abuja, and the construction of a new airport in Abeokuta to augment the Murtala Muhammed airport in Lagos.

The Deputy Senate President Ike Ekwerenmadu expressed his delight at the availability of the budget details which came alongside the fiscal document, unlike the past practice where the budget bill is submitted before details can follow thereafter.

He also commended Nigerians for showing understanding and support during the budget process, noting that the entire process has changed for good.

“There were lots of consultations between the Executive and legislature, and even the public hearing where civil society organisations were involved made it possible for smooth consideration and overall success recorded in this year’s budget process,” Senator Ekwerenmadu said.

President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki appealed to the Executive to improve on the experience of preparing the annual budget.
“And as for preparing for the 2018 budget, it is clear that the minimum of three to four months is required in order to be able to do a good process and that is why we are appealing to the Executive to ensure that by end of September 2017 at the latest, we can get the 2018 budget so that we can keep to December or January for passage,” he explained

The 2017 budget is unique because, for the first time, there was a public hearing that involved the members of the public, and also for the first time, the Appropriation Bill was presented to the law making chamber with line by line details of the fiscal document.

Confidence O