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Senate sets Dec. 19 for passage of 2018 budget

The Senate on Tuesday disclosed that it hopes to pass the N8.612 trillion 2018 budget into law on December 19 upon submission of report to that effect by its committee on appropriation.

The budget was passed through second reading at the upper chamber when it was tabled for discussion.

The Senate in approving the budget through second reading also jacked up the oil benchmark of the budget to $47 per barrel. The presidency had premised the budget proposal on the oil benchmark of $45 per barrel.

After passing the budget through second reading, the upper legislative chamber adjourned plenary session till the said date for the appropriation and other standing committees to have enough time in engaging the various government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) on budget defence as is customary.

Speaking on the passage of the second reading of the budget, Senate President Bukola Saraki said, “We know that the timetable is very tight. We will be suspending plenary for us to be able to start the defence of this budget. Committee chairmen and members should please ensure that we keep to this timetable.

“Let me respond with a general note of warning to all heads of MDAs to ensure that they strictly respect the letters of invitation and the timetable. This is not time for excuses for ministers or heads of parastatals to be traveling and not be able to attend their budget defence.

“We do not have the time. This is a very short timeframe, therefore, I expect all MDAs to be able to respect our invitation and be there on time so that the committees can wrap up and be able to present their reports by the time we come back on Tuesday, the 19th of December”.

He also disclosed that a public hearing on the budget estimates during defence session may come up on Monday next week.

“There will be a public hearing on the budget. We are looking at Monday, the 11th of December, however, in the next few days, an announcement will be made”, he said.

The Senate had earlier in paving way for passing the budget details for second reading passed the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) by raising the projected oil price benchmark from $45 to $47 per barrel.

The $47 per barrel approved by Senate as oil price benchmark was a dollar higher than the $46 recommended by its joint committee on Finance, Appropriation, National Planning and Economic Development that worked on the MTEF document.

The Senate, however, as recommended by the joint committee in collaboration with their counterparts in the House of Representatives approved all other projected parameters for the implementation of the budget.

The parameters are 2.3 million barrel oil production per day, N305 to a US dollar exchange rate, 3.5% GDP growth rate.

Others are N5.79 trillion projected non-oil revenue, N1.699 trillion for new borrowings etc.

But the upper legislative chamber in ensuring compliance by the executive during implementation of the budget when passed, resolved to insert a new clause into the 2018 Appropriation Act.

The resolution as moved by Bala Ibn Na’ Allah (APC, Kebbi South), Deputy Senate Leader, and approved  by the Senate says, “The Senate should insert in the 2018 Appropriation Act a clause which makes it mandatory for the executive to revert to the National Assembly for any expenditure that would be at variance  with approved benchmarks in the Act.”

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