The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 passed the 2016 budget into law.
After weeks of delay, Senate President, Bukola Saraki announced “I just affixed my signature on the Senate’s approval of S.B. 212: The 2016 Appropriation Bill which passed today.”
Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje while presenting a report on the budget said that it was “full of controversy”, but that the senate would not want to delay its passage by adding more controversies to it.
Goje admitted that there were lapses in the budget, but the committee had to work around them to avoid the public from blaming the upper chambers for further delay in the passage of the budget. The delay he says had already been given a political hue.
In December, the budget proposal presented to a joint session of the national assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari was N6.08trn. A total of N351bn was for statutory transfers, N2.8trn for recurrent expenditure and N1. 8trn for capital expenditure.
The senate, based on the recommendation of the committee, adopted $38 per barrel crude oil benchmark for the budget, as proposed by the federal government. It also adopted a foreign exchange rate of N197 per dollar as proposed by the government.
The senate, however, reduced the total budget sum from N6.07trn to N6.06trn: N351bn for statutory transfers, N1.4trn for debt service, N2.6trn for recurrent expenditure, and N1.5trn as capital expenditure.
Also, the upper legislative chamber observed that the budget was not presented in time to the national assembly, which effected its passage.
It urged the federal government to submit the budget subsequently in strict compliance with the Fiscal Policy Act, and advised that there should be proper consultation between the budget office and the ministries, departments and agencies.
The senate also asked the government to diversify its revenue base, and to shore up capital expenditure and reduce recurrent expenditure.