The National Assembly on Thursday passed the 2017 Appropriation Bill, with estimates totalling N7.441tn.

The passage followed the consideration and adoption of a report by the Senate and House of Representatives’ Committees on Appropriations on the bill.

Of the total, N434,412,950,249 is for statutory transfers; N1,841,345,727,206 for debt service; N177,460,296,707 for sinking fund for maturing bonds; N2,990,920,033,435 for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure; while the sum of N2,174,496,775,867 is for contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure (exclusive of capital expenditure in statutory transfers) for the year ending on December 31, 2017.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje, while presenting the report, recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, during the presentation of the bill to a joint session of the National Assembly on December 14, 2016, tagged it ‘Budget of Recovery and Growth’ with the aim of “bringing Nigeria’s economy out of recession into a path of steady growth.”

Goje said, “I want to say that the committee also made some landmark interventions in some critical sectors of our national life. These include the provision for a second (Nnamdi Azikiwe) Abuja airport runway; the funding for the resumption of work on the long abandoned Bwari-Aladja rail line.

“We have also made additional appropriation for the Amnesty Programme to ensure stability and peace in the Niger Delta for increase in oil production. This has increased the aggregate figure to N7,441,175,486,758.”

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, said the lawmakers scored a number of firsts in the processing and passage of the budget.

He said, “This is the first time we had public hearing as part of the process for the 2017 Appropriations Act. The level of engagement and contributions of the civil society has played a part in making this budget a remarkable one.

“Another first that we achieved is seeing that the line-by-line details of the budget were laid down along with the bill. Again, this is a great achievement on the part of us and I commend you all.

“Another first we have achieved is making the budget of the National Assembly available to the public, which has been an issue for a long time. I am very proud for what we have been able to achieve and we do hope, that this budget of recovery that we believe has reflected equity, has ensured efficiency and adequate resources to all relevant sectors and will go a long way in helping Nigerians to come out of the economic recession and create growth.

K“I want to appreciate the level of consultations and the good working relationship and cooperation that exist between us and the executive for us to get to this point. This is a remarkable difference from what we saw in 2016 and it shows that the entire country is better for it.”

The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, also said a lot of innovations were introduced in the budget process, citing the example of the public hearing held on the bill.

He stressed that there were consultations between the legislature and the executive during the process.

Ekweremadu said, “For the first time since some of us have been canvassing for public hearing, this happened this year. It must be added that the appropriation bill is the most important bill for any national assembly. For us, all these years, to consider this bill without public hearing has been a mistake. Now, we are back to the right path by ensuring that there is public hearing.”
Source Punch