The Nigerian Senate (the upper chamber of the National Assembly) on Thursday passed the amendments proposed by President Goodluck Jonathan to the N4.987 trillion 2013 national budget (US$1 = 157 Naira).
The passage followed several hours of deliberations on the amendment by Senators, behind closed doors at the Senate Chamber.
When the Senate re-opened plenary, Chairman of its committee on Appropriation, Senator Ahmed Maccido, said that the total budget remained as was earlier passed in December last year.
The amended budget is made up of N388,053,200,000 vote for statutory transfer; N591,764,000,000 vote for debt service; N2,414,745,972,812 vote for recurrent (non-debt); expenditure; and N1,591,657,252,789 vote for contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure.
Addressing the house, Senate President David Mark, urged relevant committees of the Senate to improve on their oversight functions to ensure that the budget was fully implemented.
Presenting the Budget Bill for debate earlier, the Senate leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, highlighted reductions made in the health, power, education and transportation sectors which President Goodluck Jonathan wanted restored.
Ndoma-Egba noted that considering the fact that unemployment was one of the country’s major concerns, there was the need for budgetary allocation to the community service, women and youth empowerment programmes under the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).
He added that the proposal of N27 billion proposed in the 2013 Appropriation Bill as presented by President Jonathan should suffice against the N9 billion approved by the parliament.
He noted that the reductions would have the adverse effect of severely undermining the capacity of the country to create jobs needed for the teeming unemployed youths, women and physically-challenged citizens.
The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was quoted earlier to have said that the Federal Government may find it difficult to pay salaries of civil servants if the National Assembly failed to pass the amended budget.