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Senate Passes N574.5 billion 2015 Supplementary Budget

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja

BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Senate on Tuesday passed into law N574.5 billion as 2015 supplementary appropriation Act, with an increase of N108 billion to the N465.6 billion requested for, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The N108 billion difference, according to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje( APC Gombe Central), was necessitated by the need for the Senate to capture the sum as payments for fuel subsidies for the last three months of the year.

He said the N413 billion earlier proposed for fuel subsidy claims in President Buhari’s letter of request,  only covers N120.5 billion 2014 arrears and N292.8 billion as claims  for January to September 2015, excluding the remaining three months of October, November and December 2015 , now captured with the N108 billion and making the total subsidy votes in the N574.5 billion budget to be N521 billion.

He added that the increase also correspondingly increased the total aggregate expenditure of the 2015 budget from N4.9trillion to N5.067 trillion.

Highlights of the N574.5billion supplementary budget aside the N521 billion appropriated for fuel subsidy claims include N29.958 billion for security votes against Boko Haram insurgency, N10.6 billion for allowances of outgone and incoming legislators and legislative aides at the National Assembly, N8.1 billion for Nigerian Air Force and N5 billion for Boko Haram victims support fund.

The  budget is  predicated on oil production of 2.2003 million barrels per day, oil benchmark price of $48 per barrel and an exchange rate of N190 to US$1.

In passing the budget, the senate vowed to follow up the processes of payment of the N521 billion voted for subsidy claims by oil marketers.

According to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Senate’s decision to pass the budget expeditiously was driven by the need to urgently solve the problem of fuel scarcity in the country at this critical time of the year  despite the clear sabotage being suspected in the whole subsidy claims by marketers.

He vowed that the senate would nevertheless through thorough oversight functions by relevant committees, follow up how the N521billion would be spent and stop such sabotage in the 2916 fiscal year.

He said: It is clear that this supplementary budget that we have passed we have looked at both the request of the executive and particularly the sufferings of Nigerians to ensure that we see that this thing is done.

‘At the same time we ant to warn the ministries and agencies in charge of this expenditure to make sure that these funds are judiciously used

“The oversight committees particularly appropriation, downstream petroleum, anti-corruption; we must expose with hope of sanction, any of these companies or agencies that take the opportunity because of the suffering of Nigerians to abuse this amount of money.

“This is a huge amount of money and I even believe that the so called huge subsidy is economic sabotage which must be unravelled ahead of the 2916 fiscal year. This is truly economic sabotage where billions of naira are being approved but not judiciously used, even our committee on anticorruption must play a role to oversee every single payment.

“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”.

Both the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume and Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio , had earlier in their submissions on the need for Senate to pass the budget, called for thorough investigations into the subsidy claims to save Nigeria from alleged yearly fleecing by marketers.

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