The House of Representatives yesterday passed for second reading the 2021 Appropriation Bill after two days of heated debate on its general principles.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last week proposed the total sum of N13.08 trillion of which N485 billion is for statutory transfers; N3.3 trillion is for debt service; N5.7 trillion is for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure, while the sum of N3.6 trillion is for contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure for the year ending December 31, 2021.
Contributing to the debate on the budget estimates on the floor of the House yesterday, the House Leader, Hon. Ado Doguwa, justified huge expenditure on security, arguing that it was aimed at achieving the socioeconomic development of the country.
Making reference to budgetary allocation to the defence and interior ministries and police, he called on the House to ensure expeditious passage of the budget.
He said: ‘’In the area of infrastructure, agriculture and various aspect of our economic development, I believe the document will be given that consideration. Mr. Speaker, I still want to add that going within the spirit of our commitment to liaise and operate on the same page with the executive, I will like to charge the standing committee chairmen, who will be dissolved as sub committees into the main appropriation committee, that we must not compromise in any way the unprecedented achievements we have made to reverse the January to December budget cycle.’’
On his part, Hon. Obinna Chidoka spoke on the problem of erosion in the South-east geopolitical zone, adding that it behooves on the National Assembly to make budgetary probation to address the menace.
Also contributing, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai described the proposal as a budget of hardship and not recovery.
According to Ossai, “A lot of people describe this budget as a budget of recovery, but I see it as a budget of hardship. With 7 point something trillion deficit of servicing, we still call it budget of recovery?’’
The Chief Whip of the House, Mohammed Tahir Monguno, in his contribution, urged the executive arm to increase the budgetary allocation to the Northeastern part of the country due to the deplorable state of infrastructure in the region.
Monguno lamented that the North-east region had suffered poor budgetary allocations even before the advent of the current administration.
He said the increase in budgetary allocation became necessary in view of the damage done to infrastructure such as roads in the Northeast by the Boko Haram insurgents for over a decade.
Monguno also called on the government to focus more attention on the agriculture sector, which he said accounts for about 70 percent of employment, not just in Nigeria, but also on the African continent.
After over two hours of debate, the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, put it to a voice vote and it was adopted.
The Clerk of the House read the long title of the bill as: ‘A Bill for an Act to authorise the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation the total sum of N13,082,420,568,233; N484,488,471,273 is for Statutory Transfers; N3,344,380,000,000 is for Debt Service; N5,649,872,137,888 is for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure, while the sum of N3,603,679,959,070 is for contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure for the year ending December 31, 2021 (HB.1069)’.
Consequently, the bill has been referred to the House Committee on Appropriation. Other standing committees would work as sub- committees under the Appropriation Committee to invite Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for budget defence after which the bill (budget) would be passed for third reading.