The National Assembly, during an emergency session convened on Monday, passed a N13.58 trillion budget for the 2021 fiscal year.
The passage of the budget in the Senate was sequel to the consideration of a report by the Committee on Appropriations on the 2021 Appropriations bill.
In his presentation, Chairman of the Committee, Jibrin Barau (APC – Kano North), while giving highlights of the bill, said out of the total sum of N13,588,027,886,175 for the fiscal year 2021, N496,528,471,273 is for Statutory transfers; N3,324,380,000,000 is for Debt Service; N5,641,970,060,680 is for Recurrent Expenditure; and N4,125,149,354,222 for Capital Expenditure.
According to the lawmaker, the 2021 budget is predicated on the parameters approved by the National Assembly when it considered the Medium Term Expenditure Framework/Fiscal Strategy Paper last week Thursday.
Benchmark Price of Crude Oil was fixed at $40USD Per Barrel; Crude Oil Production at 1.86mbpd; Exchange Rate at N379/US$; and Gross Domestic Production (GDP) Growth Rate at 3.00 percent.
For Capital Expenditure in the year 2021, the sum of N24,090,340,416 was budgeted for the Presidency; N127,850,984,984 for Ministry of Defence; N7,994,280,245 for Ministry of Foreign Affairs; N19,721,066,865 for Federal Ministry of Information and Culture; N38,846,293,565 for Ministry of Interior; N2,491,111,568 for Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation; N218,432,074 for Auditor General of the Federation; N17,882,480,948 for Ministry of Police Affairs; N17,664,285,343 for Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy; and N45,647,587,613 for the Office of the National Security Adviser.
Others such as the Infrastructure Concessionary Regulatory Commission had N353,678,953; Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation – N45,637,061,225; Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs – N8,872,787,424; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development – N211,077,457,584; Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning – N376,359,450,498; Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment – N64,760,781,172; Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment – N63,526,109,193; Federal Ministry of Science and Technology – N107,061,118,360; Federal Ministry of Transport – N209,736,113,910; Federal Ministry of Aviation – N70,189,215,332; and Federal Ministry of Power – N206,745,895,389.
In addition, N3,340,140,120 was approved for Ministry of Petroleum Resources; N12,605,747,806 for the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development; N399,694,565,222 for the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing; N110,455,765 for the National Salaries and Wages Commission; N261,170,602 for the Fiscal Responsibility Commission; N159,745,000,315 for the Federal Ministry of Water Resources; N5,097,558,027 for the Federal Ministry of Justice; N1,363,636,403 for the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission; N37,330,762,421 for the Federal Capital Territory Administration.
The sum of N22,024,592,197 was approved for the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs; N10,639,249,276 for the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development; N11,204,210,256 for Ministry of Women Affairs; N156,172,307,765 for the Federal Ministry of Education; N134,591,025,027 for Federal Ministry of Health; N24,554,710,490 for Federal Ministry of Environment; N4,839,951,093 for National Population Commission; and N75,768,539,782 for the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
Contributing to the debate, Senator Stella Oduah (PDP – Anambra North) described the 2021 budget as “well intended and articulated” by the Executive arm of government.
According to the lawmaker, the 2021 Appropriations bill accorded special attention to poverty alleviation, security and health, adding that, “the budget is emphatic in addressing the country’s infrastructural decay.”
“This budget for a change, is well focused on the people’s welfare, and that was prioritized”, she said.
Gabriel Suswam (PDP – Benue North East) on his part, while calling for the unanimous passage of the Appropriations bill by members of the upper chamber, queried the omission of the deficit level of the budget by the Committee.
Another lawmaker, Mohammed Sani Musa (APC – Niger East) said, “Looking at what has been appropriated, the Ministry of Defence; and the Armed Forces, most of what they would need has been considered in this budget.
“And, if there’s no security in this country, the whole of this budget is as good as nothing.
“So, this is a challenge to the Armed Forces of this country, that we at the National Assembly have done the needful. We must design a way to protect lives and properties,” Musa said.
The Senate, after approving the Votes and Proceedings for Monday, 21st December, 2020, adjourned plenary till 26th January, 2021.
The Senate had, on Monday, approved the sum of N453.2 billion as annual budget to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for the 2020 fiscal year.
This was just as the upper chamber approved a recommendation by the Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta for an extension of the budget implementation timeline to 31st March, 2021.
The approval followed consideration of a report by the Committee on Niger Delta.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP – Delta North), in his presentation, said out of the total sum approved, N27,389,000,000 is for Personnel Costs; N13,937,244,107 for Overhead Expenditure; N2,793,755,893 for Internal Capital Expenditure; and N409,080,000,000 for Development Projects.
On revenue projection of the Commission, the lawmaker said the Committee adopted N63,506,151,945 as reflected in the Appropriations Act, 2020.
He added that the sum of N100 billion naira reflected as unpaid arrears by the Federal Government was not considered as part of the Commission’s revenue projection by the Committee because the amount was not approved in the 2020 Appropriations Act by the National Assembly.
Nwaoboshi stated further that against the backdrop of projection by the NDDC on revenue inflow from oil companies/NLNG and others, the Committee adopted the submission of the Commission on Personnel Expenditure of N27,389,000,000; N13,937,244,107 as Overhead Expenditure; N2,793,755,893 Internal Capital; and N409,080,000,000 for Development Projects.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks charged the Niger Delta Committee to ensure the proper utilization of funds by the Commission through strict oversight.
“I want to emphasize here that our Committee on Niger Delta should sit-up and ensure that these funds are properly utilized.
“The Committee has done a good job in the past, and I’m sure it will continue with that,” the Senate President said.
Rising, Senator Seriake Dickson (PDP – Bayelsa West) sought the permission of the Senate President for a motion to be considered to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately constitute the board of the NDDC.
“What I am rising to propose, Mr. President, that this Senate at this point, having now agreed to pass the budget, can we take a motion to the effect that the President be called upon to constitute the board in accordance with the Act without further delay; and that this budget be passed for the sake and development of the well-being and welfare of the people,” he said.
Responding, Senator Lawan noted that the concerns raised by the lawmaker in his suggestion were as valid and potent as a motion considered on the floor, adding that the National Assembly would continue to engage the Executive on the need to immediately constitute the Governing Board of the Nigerian Delta Development Commission.
“I think you have made the point. Even without a motion, you have stated this and it is recorded. And, I have stated this, too.
“We have been engaging with the Executive arm of government that the nominations into the Governing Board should be made. We have been making that point and will continue to push until it is made.
“I think we are getting there, so even if we don’t take any motion, I’m sure the explanations you have given will go a long way.
“I don’t think the Sole Administrator should be there for any long period of time, but it is for us to ensure that between now and when that administrator goes, the funds appropriated are properly utilized.”