2019 Budget passes second reading in the Senate

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

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The Nigerian Senate has passed for second reading, the 2019 appropriation bill of N8.83 trillion at the resumed plenary on Tuesday.

Senate also concluded debate on the general principles of the N8.83 trillion 2019 budget proposals and referred same to its committee on Appropriation.

It directed the Appropriation Committee to submit report on the budget Bill for final approval by Senate within two weeks.

The Senate also urged all ministries and government agencies to honour invitations of its various panels at the National Assembly to defend the proposed budget for their agencies.

Speaking on the general principles of the budget, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe noted that Nigeria was still paying more debt with a total debt service of 25.7 per cent and capital budget at 23 per cent.

He said, “This is a budget of impossibilities. Out of every one naira, 68 kobo is paid out. The Federal Government needs to go back to the drawing board.”

Senator Mao Ohuabunwa said, “We are consolidating poverty. We need to really look at this budget. Instead of reducing, we should ‘jack up’ the budget by 10 trillion. What can two trillion do when we have ongoing projects? We need to block leakages and ensure taxes are collected.”

Senator Ben Murray-Bruce said, “The budget is not different from what we have been presented in the last four years. Recurrent expenditure of 4 trillion is too high. There are government agencies set up that have no value. These agencies must be scrapped.”

Senator Matthew Urhoghide called for a faithful implementation of the budget, as well as revenue plans to meet capital expenditure.

He said, “We need to ensure the common wealth of Nigerians is taken seriously. If we must pass this budget, let us be born again in implementing this budget.”

Speaking at the end of deliberations, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki said, “There is still a lot of work that needs to be done concerning the issue of the actual capital expenditure. “There is a need for us to continue to plug the leakages and independent revenue. The most important issue now is for us to see how we can complete the process,” he added.

The budget has been referred to the Committee on Appropriation which is expected to report back in two weeks.