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2015 Budget Passed Second Reading in House of Reps

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja – The House of Representatives has passed the N4.357 trillion 2×15 budget through second reading as it adjourned plenary session till February 16 while it sent the budget to committees on Appropriation, Finance and other standing committees for further legislative input.

From the sum, N411.840 billion is for Statutory Transfer; N943 billion is for Debt Service; N2,616,007,426,233 is for recurrent (Non0debt) expenditure while N387,112,573,767 is for capital expenditure.

Leading the debate on the budget, the House Leader, Mulikat Akande-Adeola, noted that the key allocations on the recurrent (non-debt) made to critical economic, social and defence sectors are: Youth development – N70 billion; Education N399.9 billion; Health – N237.5 billion; Defence – N323.4 billion; Police formation and commands – N312.7 billion; Interior – N154.5 billion; Agriculture and Rural Development – N32.2 billion; Pension and Gratuities through service wide votes – N231.4 billion while other allocations under the SWV worth N348.7 billion.

According to her, the capital expenditure from the Presidency and all MDAs was N189 billion while N193 billion was for capital supplementation, stressing that the “budget was also designed to reduce costs in non-essential areas of expenditure and as part of that, cost of governance is expected to reduce such that all trainings of civil servants will be done locally, with the exception of very few cases, as well as correcting steps to stem corruption in the public service through adequately designed internal expenditure reduction mechanisms.”

The Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Tahir Mugonu stressed the need for deployment of adequate resources into the agricultural sector by allocating 10 percent of the nation’s budget in line with the Maputo declaration.

He stressed the need for immediate diversification of the economy, lamented that about 1.8 percent of previous national budget has so far been allocated to the sector.

As for John Enoh, chairman House Committee on Appropriation noted that the House resolution on the oil benchmark will be determined by the prevailing crude oil benchmark at the international market and outcome of the proposed budget defence with various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

Ndudi Elumelu, chairman, House Committee on Health stressed the need to consider borrowing to finance capital budget considering the dwindling revenues from sales of oil resources as done in 2013.

He noted that the N3.97 trillion representing over 90 percent of the total budget of N4.3 trillion will be spend on overhead/recurrent components of the 2015 budget, at the detriment of the capital budget for which about N387 billion was allocated.

Also speaking, Jones Onyereri, chairman, House Committee on banking and Currency stressed the need for government to cut down on some purchases that reflect in the annual budget such as purchase of computers, among others.

“Government must increase the IGR from the non-oil sector and ensure that more funds are made available to the SMES. If we do that we will be able to shove any negative effect including the slide in the price of crude oil. Honestly, it could be a blessing in disguise.

“The middle class is almost in extinct; this is a good way to look at that critically. The banks should make credits available to the SMEs, this is enough to improve on our GDP, if we do that then we are in for greater times. Our overdependence on oil, I pray it doesn’t hurt us. I think it is time we think about diversifying the economy,” Onyereri said.

The standing committees are expected to commence budget denfece with various MDAs as from next week Monday.



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