Refers same to the committee gives committee two week
By Henry Umoru
AHEAD of the defence of the 2019 Appropriation Bill of N8.83 trillion presented before the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senate today passed the bill for second reading.
The bill scaled second reading at the upper legislative chamber on Tuesday — three months after President Muhammadu Buhari presented it
This came as the Senate warned ministers and heads of Parastatals against travelling outside the country to avoid stalling the process, insisting that this was not the time for them to travel.
The bill was subsequently referred to the Senator Danjuma Goje, APC, Gombe Central led Senate Committee on Appropriations to report in two weeks.
The Committee on Appropriations was asked to complete work on the document in two weeks, and to pass the budget where any minister refused to appear before the Senate for budget defence.
Speaking after the Appropriation bill scaled second reading, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki said among others, “I want to make a strong appeal to all members of the Subcommittees on Appropriation to ensure that you all immediately start receiving presentations. As I say that, all Ministers, Heads of Agencies and Department should ensure that they promptly attend when they are called in so that there will be no delays coming from them.
“Ministers and Heads of MDAs should know that this is not the time to travel. This is the time to be around. Because of the short timeframe, Distinguished Senators should let us know of any MDA that you have called for presentations who have not attended for one reason or the other, so that this can be done by the 2nd of April when we hope to consider the Final Report by the Appropriation Committee.”
Earlier, Enyinnaya Abaribe, a senator representing Abia central, described the appropriation bill as a “budget of impossibilities”.
The senator said the statistics show Nigeria is still being held down by more debt.
He said: “With a total debt service of 25.7% and capital budget at 23%, it means we are paying more debt. Out of every one naira, 68 kobos is paid out. The federal government needs to go back to the drawing board.”
Ben Murray-Bruce who represents Bayelsa east senatorial district said compared to those of previous years, there is nothing new in the budget.
“The budget is not different from what we have been presenting in the last four years,” he said, adding: “Recurrent expenditure of N4 trillion is too high. There are government agencies set up that have no value. These agencies must be scrapped.”
Mao Ohuabunwa of Abia north senatorial district said Nigeria is “consolidating poverty” with such an appropriation bill.
“We need to really look at this budget. Instead of reducing, we should ‘jerk up’ the budget by 10 trillion. What can two trillion do when we have ongoing projects,” he said.
“We need to block leakages and ensure taxes are collected and put into good use in the economy such as the basic health fund which the Senate president started.”
Senate President Bukola Saraki subsequently referred the budget to the committee on appropriation which will report back in two weeks.