Lawan gives committee one week to work on Buhari’s request for budget review

A bill seeking to amend the 2022 Appropriation Act has scaled second reading in the Senate.

The bill seeks to amend the 2022 budget by making provisions in the sum of N106,161,499,052 for Capital Expenditures and N43,870,592,044 for recurrent without increasing the budget deficit.

The bill was sponsored by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North).

President Muhammadu Buhari, in a letter to the National Assembly dated 10th of February, 2022, underscored the need to remove all capital projects that were replicated in the 2022 Appropriation Act.

He disclosed that 139 out of the 254 projects in the budget totalling N13.24 billion had been identified for deletion.

The President also requested that an additional provision for N2.557 trillion naira be appropriated by the National Assembly to fund the petrol subsidy in the 2022 Budget Framework which was revised to provide fully for PMS subsidy.

Buhari requested the National Assembly to reinstate four capital projects totalling N1.4 billion in the Executive proposal for the Federal Ministry of Water Resources; and N22.0 billion cut from the provision for the Sinking Fund to retire mature loans needed to meet government’s obligations under already Issued Bonds.

Leading debate on the general principles of the 2022 Appropriations Act Amendment bill, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi gave key highlights of the amendment to include eleven areas such as funding to cushion the impacts of the recent suspension of the Petroleum Motor Spirit subsidy removal; and addressing the adverse implications that some changes made in the 2022 Appropriation Act could have for the successful implementation of the budget.

Others include restoring the provisions made for various key projects in the 2022 budget proposal to ensure that critical projects that are cardinal to the administration are implemented and to ensure that those nearing completion do not suffer a setback due to reduced funding; Re-instating the N25.18 billion cut from the provision for the Power Sector Reform Programme; Re-instating the four Capital Projects totalling N1.42 billion in the Executive Proposal for the Federal Ministry of Water Resources; restoring the N3 billion cut from the provision made for payment of mostly long outstanding Local Contractors’ Debts; and transferring the National Assembly’s expenditures totalling N16.59 billion in the Service Wide Vote to National Assembly Statutory Transfer provision.

The Senate Leader added that the amendment also seeks the reinstatement of the N22.0 billion cut from the provision for Sinking Fund to retire Mature Loans; reinstatement of cuts made from provisions of the recurrent spendings of Nigeria’s Foreign Missions; restoration of reductions in provisions for allowances payable to personnel of the Nigerian Navy and Police Formations and Commands; and removal of all capital projects that were replicated in the 2022 Appropriation Act; following the identification of 139 out of 254 such projects totalling N3.24 billion for deletion from the budget.

Contributing to the debate, Senator Gabriel Suswam bemoaned the high tax expenditure in the 2922 budget.

“Tax expenditures are waivers that are given to individuals or companies.

“Mr. President, if you look at the tax expenditure in 2022, it is about N1 trillion and totally unnecessary.

“It is not just what the president has sent here, let us consider those areas that can help them save money because we might decide to step down those tax expenditures.”

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, after the bill scaled second reading, referred the same to the Committee on Appropriation for further work.

The Committee was given one week to report back to the chamber in plenary.

Meanwhile, two bills seeking to establish the Federal College of Education Afon, Kwara State; and the Alvan Ikoku Federal University of Education have also passed second reading.

The bills were sponsored by Senators Yahaya Oloriegbe (Kwara Central) and Ezenwa Onyewuchi (Imo East).

The bills after consideration were both referred by the Senate President to the Committee on Tertiary Institution and TETFUND.

The Committee was given four weeks to report back to the Senate.

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