Senate to pass 2017 budget next week

By Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

Nigeria's Senate

The Senate has assured Nigerians that the 2017 budget of N7.298trillion would be passed into law next week Tuesday.

The assurance came five days after the expiration of implementation of the 2016 budget signed into law on May 5, last year.

The budget proposal was presented to the National Assembly for consideration and approval by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 14, 2016.

Report on final work on the budget was earlier slated for presentation in the Senate on Thursday by the Chairman of its Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje as listed on the Order Paper but the Senate leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan requested for stepping down of the item.

According to Senator Lawan, “the Senate’s joint Committees on Appropriations and Finance finalising reports on the budget proposals along with their counterparts in the House of Representatives, were still putting finishing touches on the budget report, to avoid discrepancies in the reports of the two chambers before final passage.’’

He however said the leadership of the committees at both chambers has assured him that the report would be ready for presentation on Tuesday next week.

After putting into voice votes the adoption of the motion seconded by the deputy minority leader Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu said the need for the Senate to be on the same page with the House of Representatives on the report, led to rescheduling of its laying before the Senate and final consideration for Tuesday next week.

“Let me also emphasise for the benefit of the public that we are mandated to receive this report today (Thursday) .It was only this morning that it was necessary for us to be sure that we are on the same page with the House of Representatives to avoid any possible conferencing.

“So what we like to see is for the House and the Senate laying just the same documents so that once we pass it, we will now send the documents to the President for assent.

“I think it is important that the point be made and the public know that the harmonisation which is going on should be concluded over the weekend to enable us receive the budget report by Tuesday ,’’ Senator Ekweremadu who presided over the session explained.

Call for understanding
He stated; “Let me also inform the public that the tenure of the 2016 budget ends on Friday, 5th May, because it was passed on the 5th of May 2016 but under the constitution, the Nigerian government is entitled to continue to spend money based on the 2016 estimates up to the 30th of June, 2017.

“We will not get into the reliance on the constitutional provision hopefully by the grace of God, we will have this budget next week and pass it so that implementation will start in earnest. I just want to appeal for the understanding of the people of Nigeria.”

The 2017 budget estimates as presented by President Buhari in December last year was based on critical assumptions such as $42.5 per barrel as oil price bench mark, 2.2 million barrels per day as proposed oil production, average exchange rate of N305 Dollars, among others.

Mercy Chukwudiebere