Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Breaking News: NASS Approves N575bn Supplementary Budget

Both chambers of the National Assembly, the Senate and the House of Representatives,yesterday, passed a  total sum of N574,532,726,857 as supplementary budget for President Muhammadu Buhari.

The money, which is for additional Recurrent (Non- Debt) Expenditure for the year ending on December 31, 2015  is to be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.

The Senate, however, jerked the original supplementary budget as submitted by President Buhari by N108,895,800,000, just as it said that the increase was designed to accommodate additional funding for fuel subsidy for the months of October, November and December, 2015.

With the additional N109 billion by the Senate for fuel subsidy, it would now amount to N522,258,934,505 as the President, in the letter to the Senate, had requested for N413 billion for fuel subsidy.

Also N5,000,000,000 was approved as Victims Support Funds in the Capital Supplementation which would be re-classified to the Service Wide Vote of N559,217,800,017.

The Senate also approved the sum of N29,958,865,512 to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East and payment of outstanding claims in order to ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians under the heading, Operation Zaman Lafiya. Of the approved money, the Nigerian Army will get N17,468,992,640; Nigerian Airforce, N8,141,434,760; Nigerian Army outstanding balance from 2015 and second quarter, N4,348,438,112.

The Senate had penultimate Wednesday  received  a supplementary budget of N465,636,926,857 from President Buhari for consideration and  approval.

President Buhari, who also sought an upward review of the new borrowing plan from N882.1 billon to N2.103 trillion had  said: “The expected deficit arising from  the above is projected at N2.103 trn or 2.19 per cent of GDP to be financed by additional borrowing of N1.601 trn through the Debt Management Office.”

The approval of the Senate was sequel to the report of the Senator Danjuma Goje-led Committee on Appropriations on the 2015 Supplementary Appropriation Bill.

Earlier, the senators broke into an executive session for one hour as part of moves to discuss the appropriation bill and give the President a soft landing by passing the budget and as a follow up to last Thursday’s dinner the Senators were with the President where collaboration and synergy among the Executive and Legislature were emphasized.

Why Senate jerked fuel subsidy budget

Presenting the report, Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Goje said: “The Committee observed that the provision for subsidy payment only covers year 2014 arrears of N120.5 billion and the claims of January-September, 2015 of N292.8 billion.

“There is need to provide additional funding in the sum of N108,895,800,000 (One Hundred and Eight Billion, Eight Hundred and Ninety-Five Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Naira) only for fuel subsidy for the months of October, November and December 2015 to ensure that the 2016 Budget takes off on a clean slate. This issue came up in the course of clarification of the total subsidy need for the year ending 2015, by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

“The provision for Victim Support Fund in Capital Supplementation should have been made in the Service Wide Vote since it is a Federal Government contribution to a fund managed by a Committee which is not an MDA of Government; “There is need to adjust the proposed amendment to the 2015 Fiscal Framework to capture the additional funding need of N108,895,800,000(One Hundred and Eight Billion, Eight Hundred and Ninety- Five Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Naira) only for fuel subsidy. As indicated in the amendment to the 2015 Fiscal Framework, the Supplementary Budget will be funded through borrowing;

“With the Supplementary Bill, including the additional funding need of fuel subsidy, the total aggregate expenditure for the fiscal year 2015 will be the sum of N4,493,363,957,158 in the 2015  Appropriation Act, the Proposed sum of N465,636,926,857 and the additional funding need of N108,895,800,000(One Hundred and Eight Billion, Eight Hundred and Ninety-Five Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Naira) only for fuel subsidy amounting to N5,067,896,015 trillion.”

In his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki warned all the Ministries, Departments and Government Agencies to ensure that the approved money was used judiciously and for the purpose for which it was designed for, adding that the Senate must be up to its task in its oversight function to ensure that the agencies of government wake up to their responsibilities.

Saraki urged Senate anti- Corruption Committee, Downstream and Upstream to expose government Ministries, Departments, agencies and companies who take advantage of the sufferings of Nigerians to abuse the use of the approved money.

“We have made provisions till December so we must ensure that this money is used properly. This issue of fuel subsidy, I want us all, all Nigerians, we must say no to this blackmail by marketers, we must put an end to this issue. A lot of us in the past have spoken on this matter and I think we are doing this for the interest of Nigerians,  but I think it is high time we say no to this blackmail and end this hardship.

“We must consider this in 2016. I think the committee on petroleum both downstream and upstream as well as committee on anti-corruption should oversight and make necessary recommendation to the Senate for further legislative action on this matter,” he said.

Earlier, Senate leader, Senator Ali Ndume  who noted that it was very important for the Senate to pass the bill, said that having looked at the bill, the only people benefiting from the subsidy were those supporting it, just as he stressed that in the past few years, it has continued to increase and even when there was outcry by the 7th Senate to probe it, it was not successful, adding that they were blackmailed to pass it because not doing so would amount to the queue remaining.

Also, Senate Minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who supported the bill also  asked for the suffering of Nigerians to be brought to an end, just as he stressed that what he would have loved to see as the true change was zero subsidy at the end of the day, adding that Nigerians would be spared  the problem of whether there was subsidy scam or not.

Briefing newsmen after the plenary, Senator Goje said  that the bill concerns the subsidy petroleum products, adding, “what we were given earlier by the executive only covers from January to September this year. We have to approve the last quarter, they came up with N108 billion. We want to ensure as we promised Nigerians to do whatever it takes to supply uninterrupted petroleum products for the next four years.

House of Reps concurs

Like the Senate, the House of Representatives also approved the N575 billion supplementary budget.

According to the report that was considered by the members,  fuel subsidy was increased from N413,363,134,505 to N522,258,934,505 showing an increase of N108.895 billion.

The budget was passed after the adoption of the report of the joint committee on Appropriations, Finance and Aids, Loans and Debt Management.

The increase of N108.895 billion according to the joint committee would enable Federal Government to pay for fuel subsidy for October to December 2015.

The upward review of the supplementary budget was agreed on at a meeting with (MDAs) on the 2015 Supplementary Budget held on Monday.

Breakdown of the budget showed that the sum of N10,618,837,435 is for outstanding payment of severance gratuity and allowances of out-gone and incoming legislators and legislative aides; N3,196,089,405 is for salaries of Nigerian Army recruited personnel while N1.5 billion is for All African Games qualification for Rio 2016.

The sum of N29,958,865,512 is for Operation Zaman Lafiya, the sum of N17,468,992,640 is for Nigerian Army while N8,141,434,760 is for Nigerian Air Force.