By Henry Umoru, Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA–AS President Muhammadu Buhari presents the 2016 Appropriation Bill to the joint session of the National Assembly comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives today, there were strong indications, yesterday, that the lawmakers are ready to ensure speedy passage of the bill.
Vanguard learned that senators and members of the House of Representatives are prepared to give the bill accelerated consideration and passage into law.
As part of moves to fast track the passage of the bill when the Senators resume from New year break in the second week of January, a source told Vanguard that once the President presents the budget today, the Senate and the House of Representatives will go to their various chambers to commence work.
According to the source, part of the arrangement is to present the bill for first reading today and tomorrow, when the lawmakers will formally adjourn sitting till next year, the bill would be presented for second reading and passed and thereafter referred to the appropriate committees on Finance, Budget, National Planning and Appropriation among others.
The move, the source told Vanguard, would make the job easy as the budget would then be at the committee level where ministers, heads of parastatals, departments and agencies of government would be invited to defend their budget.
Last Wednesday, the Senate approved the Medium Term and Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper, FSP submitted by the Federal Government, just as it approved Crude Oil Benchmark price of US$38 per barrel for 2016 despite the global dwindling crude oil price to $36 per barrel as at Monday from the $40 per barrel.
In the documents, the Senate also approved that the Federal Government should in 2016 establish a data base and possibly a single salary account for all its employees as that would help streamline and reduce its personnel cost. It also approved the exchange rate of N197 to $1 as proposed in the MTEF.