BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA – THE Senate y Tuesday was divided along party lines as Senators from the All Progressives Congress, APC, sought the rejection and re-working of the 2014 Appropriation Bill saying that it was anti-people while the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senators pressed for quick passage of the budget.
Leading the debate for the opposition was Senator Gorge Akume, Minority Leader of the Senate who argued that any budget passed into law and properly implemented normally served as the engine of growth and development.
Senator Akume called for suspension of debate on the budget because according to him, relevant documents that would guide Senators in making contributions as required by Fiscal Responsibility Act were not presented to them, adding that not all the Senators are experts on budgetary issues.
Some of the documents, he stated included the underline revenues and expenditure profile of government, the revenue framework broken down monthly and sector by sector and the document that explains the performance of the 2013 budget.
Senator Akume who was the former governor of Benue State took a swipe at what the Federal Government was doing with the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P funds, saying that the fund had become an omnibus allocation that takes care of virtually every aspect of life.
He advised that the Senate should not be in a hurry in considering the budget as there was the need for line by line consideration where the chamber where thoroughly scrutinize so as to bring out areas that are waste
Akume who is a member of APC frowned at a situation where about N700 million was budget for VIPs (Very Important Personality) in the presidency for the entertainment of visitors while about N300 million was allocated to State House clinic which is restricted to ordinary Nigerians, describing such as a waste of resources and irrelevant.
In his own contribution, Senator Ahmed Lawan, APC, Yobe North described the budget as the worst Appropriation in the history of the country and the worst for the Nigerian masses, adding that the Senate should not discuss the 2014 budget without firstly discussing the implementation and success of the 2013 budget.
Senator Lawan pointed out that the recurrent expenditure in 2013 budget was fully implemented even beyond the budgetary allocation, while the capital expenditure was less than 40 percent implemented, stressing that the nation’s resources was being spent on public and civil servants and things that were of less importance to the country.
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