By Cecilia Ijuo
Abuja – The Bill for an Act to authorise the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation the sum of N8.6 trillion passed through second reading at the Senate on Tuesday.
This followed conclusion of a week-long debate on general principles of the Bill by the lawmakers at plenary.
Out of the N8.6 trillion for the 2018 Budget estimates, N456 billion is for Statutory Transfer and N2 trillion for Debt Service.
It proposed N3 trillion for Recurrent-Non-Debt Expenditure and N2 trillion for contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure for the year ending Dec. 31, 2018.
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, commended the lawmakers for taking out time to make contributions to the general principles of the Bill.
He urged standing committees to work within the two-week timeframe given for defence of the budget, which would commence on Wednesday through Dec. 18.
Saraki called on Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to comply with invitations for the defence of the budget.
“We know that the time-table is very tight and we will be suspending plenary to enable us start the defence. Committee chairmen and members should please ensure to keep to the time-table.
“I want to therefore use this opportunity to issue a warning to heads of MDAs to strictly respect the letter of invitation to attend the defence.
“This is not time for excuse for ministers or heads of parastatals to be travelling and not be able to attend the defence.
“We do not have the time. It is a very short timetable so that the committees can wrap up to be able to present their reports by the time we resume on Dec. 19.
“Also, the Appropriation Committee should take note of the comments of the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu.
“The committee should particularly note the aspect where he talked about making it mandatory for the executive to come back to us for expenditure in excess of the budget or the benchmark,’’ he said.
He announced that there would a public hearing on the budget in the course of the week to enable the public have input before its passage.
The Bill was referred to Committee on Appropriation with directive to return it to plenary on Dec. 19 when plenary was adjourned to allow standing committees to commence budget defence.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Nov. 7, presented the 2018 Budget Estimates of N8.6 trillion to the joint session of the National Assembly.(NAN)
2018 Appropriation Bill passes second reading at Senate
By Cecilia Ijuo