OrderPaperToday – The 2021 appropriation bill has passed second reading in the House of Representatives despite demurring from a section of lawmakers who criticized the budget proposal.
This happened on Wednesday after two days of heated deliberations and scrutiny.
The bill which was presented on Tuesday by the majority leader of the House, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, saw mostly lawmakers of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) speaking in negative light against the bill.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last week presented the 2021 budget of N13.082 trillion tagging it as budget of ‘recovery and resilience.’
Ado-Doguwa said: “I believe the document should be given consideration. Mr. Speaker, I still want to add that going within the spirit of our commitment to liaise and operate on the same page with the executive, I will like to charge, the standing committees chairmen who will be dissolved as sub-committees into the main appropriation Committee; we must not compromise in any way the unprecedented achievements we have made to reverse to the January-December budget cycle.”
But some members during their contributions described it as budget of hardship.
Some of the members who spoke against the bill faulted the allocation of N5.65 trillion to non-debt recurrent expenditure which is higher than aggregate sum of N3.85 trillion proposed for capital projects as well as the budget deficit projection of N5.20 trillion.
Mr. Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) said though the 2021 budget is titled budget of recovery but the huge deficit could make it budget of hardship.
“A lot of people describe this budget as a budget of recovery but I see it as a budget of hardship, because the projected revenue is N7.8 trillion. We are servicing the 2020 at three point something trillion and in 2021 we are servicing at N4.2 trillion, is that a budget of recovery? That’s a budget of hardship”, he argued.
Also speaking, Richard Gbande (PDP, Benue) said: “If we look at the other avenues of financing the deficit budget, if we look at sale of government assets, surplus proceeds for the government owned enterprises but if you look at the 2020 budget and other budgets before this 2021 budget you will discover that it is very difficult to meet the appropriated target so we have to look inwards”.
Speaking in support of the bill, the House Chief Whip, Mohammed Monguno (APC, Borno) urged the executive arm to increase budgetary allocation to the Northeastern part of the country due to deplorable state of infrastructure in the region.
Monguno also called on the government to focus more attention on the agricultural sector, which he said, accounts for about 70 percent of employment in the entire African continent.
“Over the years, there’s no region that has been getting low allocation like the North East. I call on the government to improve the allocation to the North East. Our roads and other infrastructure are in deplorable state due to Boko Haram,” he said.
In his majority, Mr. Doguwa applauded the executive on security allocation saying it was aimed at achieving the socio-economic development of the country.
The Bill was passed when the presiding officer, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila put the question and referred to the House Committee on Appropriation, hence other standing Committees would work as Sub- Committees under it to invite Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for budget defence after which the Bill (budget) would be passed for third reading.
The budget debate also received knocks from senators of PDP extraction during the week.