…Approves N3.324trn for debt servicing

National Assembly yesterday passed N13.588 trillion as 2021 budget as against the N13.08 trillion presented to the joint session of the National Assembly on October 8, 2020, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The budget, which was jerked up by over N500 billion, has a total sum of N3.324 trillion approved for debt servicing.

The federal legislature also passed N496.528 billion as a statutory transfer in a budget that provided N4.125 trillion for capital expenditure and N5.641 trillion as recurrent expenditure.

Specifically, the sum of N5.196 trillion was approved as a deficit, which it explained would be financed by some multilateral and bilateral project-tied loans worth N709 billion.

The passage of the budget followed the consideration and adoption of the report of the Appropriation Committees of both chambers chaired by Senator Barau Jibrin (APC Kano North) and Hon. Aliyu Mukhtar Betara respectively.

Presenting the report, Senator Jibrin said the Committee in preparing the budget was guided by the revenue parameters approved by the National Assembly, when it considered the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, and Fiscal Strategy Paper, FSP

He said the Committee adopted 40 dollars per barrel crude oil price benchmark as proposed by the Executive at 1.86mbpd, while the exchange rate of N379 was also adopted with Gross Domestic Product, GDP, assumption of 3.00 per cent as presented by the executive.

Speaking further, Jibrin said the Committee while processing the bill considered the impact of COVID-19 Pandemic that has negatively affected virtually every aspect of life, businesses, individuals and revenue profile of the government.

He, however, said in view of the increasing global oil prizes beyond the benchmark of 40 dollars, the executive may wish to submit a Supplementary Appropriation Bill whenever it deems fit.

This, Barau said, would help fund critical areas that would help to accelerate the movement of the economy out of recession.

A breakdown of the approved budget indicates that a total aggregate expenditure of N13, 588,027,886,175 was earmarked for the 2021 fiscal year.

Recurrent Expenditure was allocated N5, 641,970,060,680 while Capital Expenditure was N4, 125,149,354,222.

Statutory transfer got N496, 528,471,273 while debt servicing was allocated N3, 324,380,000,000.

Sectorial highlights of the Appropriation Bill for capital expenditure indicates that Ministry of Works and Housing was allocated N399 billion, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning were allocated N376 billion, Ministry of Agriculture N211 billion, Ministry of Transport, N209 billion, Ministry of Power, N206 billion, Ministry of Defence was allocated N127 billion among others.

President of Senate Ahmad Lawan shortly after the passage of the budget said: “This budget that has been passed by National Assembly today is to ensure that our economy is supported fully through public expenditure “because the economy of our country depends largely on public expenditure.

“The budget extension period of 2020 which we did last year is to ensure that the funds that are available for 2020 are not lost.

“So we have two budgets and funds from 2020 elapse on March 31, 2021, the implementation of 2021 budget will start from January 1, 2021, to December 31st, 2021.

“That is the absolute fight against the recession that we are in and with the projected growth in our GDP in the 2021 budget, the recession will be over before the first quarter.

“I want to urge the executive arm of government first to ensure that they implement the 2020 budget that will last up to the 31st of March 2021.

“There will be no extension after 31st March; everyone must be on his toes in the MDAs to implement the budget 2020.

“And for 2021, we have to do everything possible to ensure that we implement the budget like we try to do in the 2020 budget.

“I believe that the economy of Nigeria will receive a boost from the implementation of the two budgets,” Lawan said.

He said there was a need for the executive to come up with a supplementary budget in the first quarter of 2021 to provide funds to procure and administer the envisaged COVID-19 vaccines to Nigerians.

He also said there was the need to also allocate an adequate fund to cater to issues of insecurity in the country.

The Senate president said issues of health and security were very important to the development of the people.

The two chambers after the successful passage of the budget adjourned plenary till Tuesday, January 26, 2021, to observe the Christmas and New Year celebration.

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