National Assembly won’t pass 2016 budget today, says Senate
• ‘Appropriation Bill to be passed before Easter vacation’
• Upper, Lower chambers may get N115 billion allocation
The National Assembly yesterday said the N6.08 trillion 2016 budget bill would not be passed into law today as earlier promised after twelve weeks of legislative work.
It, however, assured that the report of the appropriation committees would be submitted to both chambers today.Addressing journalists shortly after yesterday’s session, Senate spokesman, Aliu Saabi Abdullahi, who is also a member of the Appropriation Committee of the Senate, said even though the committee would submit its report on the budget proposal, the document would not be passed as envisaged.
He said that the earlier promise by the National Assembly to pass the budget today was a move aimed at giving itself work target.
According to him, the fact that the budget report would be laid today showed that it had succeeded in achieving a greater percentage of the target.
He said: “We are laying the budget tomorrow (Thursday). That means that every little work that needed to be done with respect to getting that budget as an appropriation has been done. Literally, laying the budget tomorrow means that beyond laying it, we will discuss it by taking it clause by clause and give it the loud voice that would proclaim its passage.
Meanwhile, as promised by Senate President Bukola Saraki that details of the National Assembly budget will be made public today, or at the latest by Tuesday, a total of N115 billion was said to have been allocated to the National Assembly in the 2016 Appropriation Bill.
The figure, it was learnt, is short of the N150 billion that the Assembly previously enjoyed until the country began to suffer a cash crunch as a result of the downturn in oil sales.
The House of Representatives is billed to get about N45 billion for recurrent expenditure, which it was gathered, would be distributed to each of the 360 federal constituencies represented in the Lower House at about N9 million each. The amount will cover travels within and outside Nigeria by each representative, running of constituency offices for those who “are magnanimous enough to set them up,” a source said yesterday.
Each of the 109 senatorial districts in the Upper House of the National Assembly is expected to get a little over N4 million more than what each of the federal constituencies got. Each of the districts represented by the senators will get nearly N13.5 million for the lawmakers to run their offices.
The aides of the 469 federal legislators have nearly N10 billion to share as their emoluments.It was gathered that of the N30 billion allocated to the Senate, N3.3 billion would be for capital projects and N26.97 billion for recurrent.
In the House of Representatives, capital projects will gulp nearly N3 billion, while personnel cost will be N5 billion.Also yesterday, Senate Majority Leader, Mohammed Ndume, assured that the Senate would pass the budget bill next week.
He told reporters that because the National Assembly would be going on Easter vacation next week, it would certainly pass the budget bill and transmit it to President Buhari before the vacation.
Abdullahi further said: “When a target is set, it is to allow you to work very hard to achieve the target. By virtue of the fact that the budget would be laid tomorrow (Thursday), it shows that we had worked so hard to get to that point. The rest after laying the budget is merely administrative. As far as we are concerned, in line with the legislative procedure, by laying the budget tomorrow is as good as having passed the budget. What remains is for us to go through one or two things as a procedure.
“We have done very well by ensuring that the budget would be laid tomorrow (Thursday). There are lots of back and forth with respect to the budget. We are not unmindful about the date set for the passage, but we want to give Nigerians a budget that is acceptable, implementable and one that will actually drive the key policies of this government with respect to the change agenda.
“For the budget to be laid tomorrow, that means that there is concurrence, all members of the appropriation committee are satisfied, everybody that has a responsibility has agreed. Every member of the committee has appended his signature on the budget and by tomorrow when the budget is laid, Nigerians will know that we have done well.”