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» » SENATE REDUCE PASSED BUDGET BY N17BN
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Sen Bukol Saraki attesting his signature to the passed budget
The Senate, on Wednesday, passed the 2016 Appropriation Bill presented to the lawmakers by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 22, 2015, with emerging revelations indicating that salaries and entitlements of some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) were missing in the budget.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje, who made the revelation in the report of his committee, said the affected staff may not get paid this year.

While presenting the report of his committee on the budget, Senator Goje told the chamber some Federal Government’ workers in some MDAs might not get paid appropriately all through the year, because of shortage in allocations for their wages as contained in the budget.

He said the problem was because of the shortage in allocations for recurrent expenditure for the affected MDAs in the original budget submitted to the National Assembly by the president on December 22, 2015

He also recommended that the executive arm of government should ensure that in the future, agencies and the Budget Office work in harmony, while also observing the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act .

“Appropriation Bill contained a number of omissions, particularly in the area of personnel costs. Though the appropriation committees have filled some of the gaps, there are  many outstanding cases which could raise serious concern in the course of the year.

“This budget exercise was a follow-up negotiations, going forward and back. When the budget was presented as attested by many committees, there were shortages discovered that couldn’t close the personnel cost in various committess and these were highlighted by various committees and the total amount involved was presented to the executive during the course of our interaction with the budget office.

“We presented that these are the shortfalls from personnel and other overhead costs which we believe should be taken care of,” he said.

Goje, however, said the lawmakers believed that the Federal Government could augment the shortfall through the contingency funds in the service wide votes and the general contingency in the budget.

In passing the budget some three months after its presentation, the Senate reduced it by the sum of N17 billion and also discovered a number of errors and omissions.

Goje said that the committee worked closely with the House of Representatives, adding that what was presented to the Senate was almost a conference report of the two chambers.

He said that the Senate removed the sum of N17 billion from the total figure of N6.077 trillion, bringing the budget figure to N6.060 trillion.

The lawmakers also cut the proposed capital spending from N1.8 trillion to N1.5 trillion, but retained the budget benchmark of $38 per barrel for crude exports and an exchange rate of N197 to the United States (US) dollar.

The sum of N1.587 trillion was approved for capital expenditure in the fiscal year, while the lawmakers also approved the sum of  of N2.646 trillion as recurrent expenditure.

They also approved N351.37 billion as statutory transfers; N1.475 trillion for debt service and a total of N2.2 trillion for fiscal deficit in the year.

A breakdown of the budget showed that the recurrent expenditure initially put at N2,646,389,236,196 was increased to N2,648,600,000, while capital expenditure estimate was reduced from N1,845,540,000,000 to N1,587,598,122,031.

Out of the approved sum of N351,370,000, for statutory transfers, the National Assembly gets N115 billion; Universal Basic Education gets N77.110 billion; National Judicial Council gets N70 billion; INEC gets N45 billion; Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) gets N41.050 billion; Public Complaint Commission gets N2 billion, while National Human Rights Commission gets N1.210 billion.

Also captured in the budget are: N14,690,036,516 for Group Life Insurance for all MDAs, including DSS/insurance sensitive assets/corps members; N1 billion for armed forces enhanced retirement benefits of commodores and above; N2.795 billion for severance benefits of Delta Steel company/Pension pay-off; N2,544,110,811 for military retirees NHIS; N36 million for administration and monitoring of OHSCF Group Life; N200 million for pension verification and administration; N2.3 billion for entitlements of former presidents/heads of state and vice-presidents/Chief of General Staff and N1.5 billion for public service reforms (including payment of severance benefits of civil servants).

Out of total sum of N1,475,320,000,000 approved for debt service, the sum of N1,307,400,000,000 is for domestic debts; N54.480 billion for foreign debts while N113.440 billion is for sinking fund to retire maturing loans.

From the N1,898,444,450,116 approved for recurrent (non-debt expenditure), interior gets highest allocation of N451,942,552,070; education gets N367,734,727,223; defence, N312,213,355,618; health, N221,412,548,087; youth and sports development, N72,297,326,595; Petroleum Resources, N54,336,926,923; Foreign Affairs, N39,440,096,249; Information and Culture, N38,729,446,483; Works, Power and Housing gets N33,971,882,707; agriculture gets N29,632,584,416, while Science and Technology gets N25,554,038,310.

The Presidency gets N21,676,277,888; NSA, N56,791,291,063; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), N45,890,745,817; Head of Civil Service of the Federation gets N6,270,657,023; Justice, N17,389,782,636; Environment, N14,515,408,468; Transportation, N13,667,122,591; Water Resources, N7,219,056,441; Solid Minerals, N9,402,106,704; Industry, Trade and Investment, N10,410,294,458; Finance, N9,994,990,976; National Planning, N7,737,100,536; AGF, N2,480,584,708; Labour and Employment, N7,735,604,366; Niger Delta, N1,261,723,837; ICPC, N5,029,989,359; Communication and Technology, N9,885,909,120; ICRC, N838,569,623; FRC, N320,198,366; Special Duties, SGF, N65,604,713 while Women Affairs gets N1,216,723,837.

According to the report on  the budget, a breakdown of the capital votes for MDAs, the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing gets the lion share of N422,964,928,495, followed by Transportation, with N188,674,679,674; Defence, N130,864,439,542; Interior, N61,713,279,496; Agriculture, N46,173,963,859; Water Resources, N46,081,121,423; Education, N35,433,487,466; National Security Adviser, N32,084,085,624 while FCTA gets N29,297,122,872.

The sum of N28,650,342,987 is allocated for Health; N27,006,179,073 for Science and Technology; N23,004,199,702 for Presidency; N20,319,288,049 for SGF; N19,440,328,551 for Niger Delta; N7,332,623,257 for Solid Minerals Development; N5,542,655,626 for Labour and Employment; N6,304,900,570 for Petroleum Resources; N5,992,735,230 for Communication Technology; N4,957,964,638 for Environment while N2,322,144,778 for Budget and National Planning.

The sums of N3,497,043,000 was allocated to Youth and Sports Development; N1,429,176,735 for office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation; N2,293,528,977 for Women Affairs; N897,736,744 for Justice; N123,044,650 for Fiscal Responsibility Commission; N169,871,885 for National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission; N35.730 million for Infrastructure Concessionary Regulatory Commission; N317,509,819 for Auditor General of the Federation andN667,842,500 for Finance.

Out of the sum of N1,173,407,694,354 approved for Executive (Federal Executive bodies), Code of Conduct gets N4,889,127,358; Code of Conduct Tribunal, N1,055,560,066; Federal Character Commission, N984,780,230; Federal Civil Service Commission, N16,841,017; National Population Commission, N4,411,606,590; Police Service Commission, N269,628,000, while Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission gets N19,883,417.

Also, from a  total sum of N402,542,999,999 earmarked under capital supplementation, the sum of N2 billion is  allocated to the National Job creation scheme/graduate internship scheme; N527,259,306 is allotted for Quick Wins - completion of 2008 and 2009 projects; N3 billion is for NELMCO (outstanding liabilities); N3.432 billion is for Bulk Trader; N10 billion is for sinking fund for infrastructure development; N1.5 billion for special inititaitve for women participation in agriculture, water, sports, communication technology/partnership with states and local governments, Women Development Centres.

Other allocations include N1 billion for GIFMIS capital; N2.5 billion for 2011 election violence and civil disturbances (damage done to public properties and places of worships); N1 billion for sport development; N8,267,215 for Special intervention MDGs (verification of assets and liabilities); N609,037,225 for transition to SDGs while additional sum of N3,378,044,922 is for SDG programmes; N581,777,918 for SDG monitoring and evaluation; N474,533,376 for consultancy, fees, survey and short term and long term studies; N427,080,038 for communication and advocacy (SDG); N500 million for Federal Ministry of Finance: special Programme for improving efficiency; N5.5 billion for capital exigencies/adjustment to capital cost; N4 billion for capital development of NILS; N1 billion for National Assembly clinic; N500 million for infrastructure master plan under Ministry of Budget and Planning; N2 billion for Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC) and N100 billion for special intervention/constituency projects.

Through the service wide vote, which worth N188,105,681,152, the sum of N33,290,715,716 is for payment of pensions and gratuities under the office of the Head of Civil Service (Civil service); N67,629,949,771 for military pensions and gratuities; N7,412,463,652 for police pensions and gratuities; N8.420 billion for Customs, Immigration and Prisons Pension office; N14,343,326,479 for universities’ pensions, including arrears; N26,756,754,031 for pensions of Nigerian Railway Corporation; N2,257,298,262 for pre-1996 NRC pensions; N7,643,405,446 for Department of State Security (DSS) pensions and arrears; N3,709,146,567 for Nigeria Intelligence Agency pensions and arrears while N16,642,621,229 is for NELMCO.

Also provided for in the budget are: N300 billion for special intervention (recurrent); N20 billion for amnesty programme, N8 billion for Lafiya Dole; N4 billion for IPPIS capturing; N1 billion for service wide training of budget/planning officers on GIFMIS budget preparation system, as well as monitoring and evaluation of all projects nationwide; N2 billion for payment of outsourced services; N2.5 billion for provision of security equipment for selected public buildings and N4 billion for Employees Compensation Fund.

The sum of N500 million was allocated for election logistics support; N12 billion for pilgrims support services; N12 billion for contingency; N3,599,600,000 for margin for increases in costs and recurrent adjustment costs; N8.5 billion for external financial obligations; N3.5 billion for assessed contribution to African Union and others; N6 billion for contribution to international organisations, including WAEC; N33,597,400,000 for public service wage adjustment for MDAs (including arrears of promotion and salary increases) and N3 billion for outstanding payments to health professionals.

Also, the sum of N13 billion was approved for operations - internal for armed forces; N10.255 billion for improved remuneration package for Nigerian Police, including 2014 and 2015 shortfalls and N400 million for 35th annual general meeting and symposium of Shelter-Afrique in Nigeria in June 2016.

The lawmakers also passed some conditions for the operation of the budget.

In Section 4(i and ii ) of the budget bill, the lawmakers mandated the Accountant-General of the Federation to “maintain a separate record for the documentation of revenue accruing to the Consolidated Revenue Fund in excess of oil price benchmark adopted on oil and gas.

“Such revenues as specified in sub-section (1) of this section refers to revenues accruing from sales of government crude oil in excess of $38 per barrel, the Petroleum Profit Tax and Royalty on oil and gas.”

While commenting on the report, the  Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, asked the appropriation committee to help avert a situation where some workers would not get their wages due to omissions in the budget.

“The outstanding cases should be identified, especially on the personnel cost, so that we can take advantage of the budget consideration to address it and we won’t be blamed for inability to pay salary,” he said.

Also speaking, the Senate minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, asked the executive to always ensure implementation of the budget, adding that the government must also tidy the budget process to avoid a situation whereby ministries, departments and agencies of government appear before the National Assembly to deny their proposals.

Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, who rounded off discussions on the budget bill, thanked the Senate committee for doing a good job, adding that the executive must now do its part to actualise the budget.

“What is unique about this exercise is that for once, there is no bickering over benchmark, rather, we all devoted  time and energy to ensure that we have a budget that is implementable.

“The budget reflects efficient and equitable allocation of resources to reduce the challenges that we are all aware of. The budget is now a product of bipartisan engagement, commitment and one that is broadly nationalistic. It gives me great joy to commend and appreciate all the efforts  that you have all put in.

“It is the duty of the executive to ensure full implementation of this budget, as part of the campaign to bring succour to our people.

“While implementing, we charge the executive to also consider the areas of supporting locally produced content, in order to help our economy.

“We have all seen the earlier hiccups in the beginning of the budget and we hope that by the time we are set for that of 2017, the agencies and the budget office would improve their level of interaction and government itself would bring the budget much earlier, to give ample opportunity. It is very important that we do this.

“We have played our part, the  different committees should do their job now in the area of oversight, to ensure that we have a budget that is fully  implementable. Nigerians have been waiting for us to pass the budget.

“I think at this time too, the implementing agencies should ensure that they get to work quickly in implementing the budget.

“We on our part we have one or two bills to consider, like the Public Procurement Act, to see what we can do to assist with easy implementation of the budget,” he said.

While addressing a joint press conference in the National Assembly, chairmen of Senate and House committees on Appropriation, Senator Goje and Honourable Abdumumin Jibrin, said the process of passing the budget must have taught the executive some lessons on how to handle issue of padding.

Senator Goje said “there is provision for virement. That is, if in the cost of implementing this budget, problems arise, we are there as the National Assembly to effect any virement, which is legal and normal.”

Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, while speaking with newsmen, allayed the fears over delay in presidential assent, adding that the executive worked hand in hand with the legislature in the process of budget passage.

He said the expeditious consideration and passage of the bill was laudable, while he commended the Senate and House committees on appropriation and other sub-committees for working hard in ensuring that the budget was passed.

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