Senate okays Jonathan’s 4.9trn 2013 budget

The Senate yesterday, finally caved in to President Goodluck Jonathan’s original N4.9 trillion 2013 budget proposal by passing same into law following the prolonged delay which haunted the eventual passage of the 2013 budget owing to a disagreement over modifications made by the National Assembly to the initial proposal received from the executive.

The decision to pass the 2013 budget as received from President Jonathan was reached on Thursday after three hours of closed door meeting during plenary.

The total budget passed by the upper chamber was 4.987 trillion, out of which N388 billion was for statutory transfers, N591 billion for debt service, N2.415 trillion for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure, while the balance of N1.591 trillion was earmarked for contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure for the year ending on the 31 December, 2013.

Speaking to newsmen, Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Eyinnaya Abaribe said the decision of the Senate to so do was particularly in the interest of Nigerians.

Earlier, in a Presentation of his committee’s report on the budget, Chairman of Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Ahmed Maccido, explained that the budget amended did not in any way increase the aggregate expenditure of the original bill passed in December 24, 2012.

Blueprint recalls that Jonathan, had in a letter to the Senate, asked the upper legislative chamber to restore the over N77billion which he said the National Assembly unilaterally removed from the proposed budget for the Ministry of Work, including N4 billion approved for Abuja -Lokoja road. In his remark, Senate President,

David Mark advised the executive to keep faith to the approved budget just as he tasked the standing committees of the senate to step up their oversight function on the executive and government agencies.

The National Assembly had effected a slash to the original budget received from President Jonathan to the tune of about N32 billion from certain categories of the budget.

This led the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to express fears that the federal government may run into difficulty in payment of salaries to workers starting September, as well as interfere with the completion of the key projects contained in the approved 2013 budget.

A breakdown of the deduction had shown that under the Ministry of Works, N4billion was deducted from money voted for completion of Abuja-Lokoja road, N5.5billion from the Ibadan-Ilorin Road dualisation, N3.5billion from the Kano-Maiduguri road and N1.5billion from the rehabilitation of Jebba Bridge Others are: N4billion removed from capital votes on dualisation of Obajana junction to Benin, N1bn from rehabilitation of burnt marine and Iddo Bridge and N6.28bn reduced from votes of the Special Intervention Fund for Emergency Roads and Bridges washout across the country.

In the Ministry of Power, a total of N16.3bn was cut from various power projects but N2.25billion was restored to the 215MW Kaduna Dual fired Power Plant and N1.5bn to 2nd Kaduna-Kano 33KV Dc Lines.In the Health sector, deductions like N1bn reduced from MDG HIV/AIDS ARV drugs allocation is to be restored along with N1.75bn removed from the total votes made for Routine Immunization Vaccines etc.

However, under the Sure-P budget profile where the biggest reduction of N18bn was made by the National Assembly as against the total sum of N27billion originally proposed, most of the senators who debated the amendment proposal said the newly formed Senate’s Ad-Hoc Committee on SURE-P, should liaise with the executive to get concrete facts on how the N27billion would be spent.

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