By BEN AGANDE
ABUJA – THE Senate, yesterday, passed a budget of N4, 971,881,652,689 (Four trillion, nine hundred and seventy one billion, eight hundred and eighty one million, six hundred and fifty two thousand six hundred and eighty nine naira) for the 2011 fiscal year.
The budget is N338 billion higher than the initial figure of N4.22 trillion submitted by President Goodluck Jonathan to a joint session of the National Assembly four months ago.
Presenting the report of the Appropriation Committee yesterday, Chairman of the committee, Senator Iyiola Omisore, said despite the pressure on members of the National Assembly as a result of the forthcoming elections, the committee members were able to meet with relevant agencies of government to obtain necessary information needed for the job.
He said the budget was based on a benchmark of $75 per barrel of petrol; up from the $64.7 projected by the executive when the budget was submitted.
The Appropriation Committee chairman said the revenue projection was based on a crude oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day; a joint venture production of $5.4 billion; a GDP of seven per cent and an exchange rate of N150 to US$1.
Senator Omisore said the budget is premised on “government’s determination to establish and strengthen the sound macroeconomic environment that Nigeria needs to ensure the prosperity of its citizens” by attracting investment, facilitating private sector growth, boosting employment generation and ensuring wealth creation.
He regretted that the budget was delayed because “the executive kept sending additional proposals till March 11, 2011, with adjustments, differentials and errors in the sum of N312 billion to augment MDAs’ key priority expenditures.”
The highlights of the budget are a recurrent Expenditure of N2,467,168,724,129 and a Capital Expenditure of N1,562,999,158,775. The sum of N445.096,682,115 is allocated to Debt Servicing while N496,617,087,670 is for Statutory Transfer.
The capital expenditure in the budget include N188.976 billion budgeted for works ministry, N99.071 billion for power, and N87.880 billion for the office of the National Security Adviser.
Senate president, Senator David, said it was important that the budget was passed before the next election in order that activities of government were not grounded, while enjoining the executive to implement the budget as passed by the National Assembly.