The House of Representatives yesterday began deliberations on the proposed 2016 Budget with all members who spoke on the Appropriation Bill lauding its contents and uniqueness.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the House had on Tuesday acknowledged receipt of the corrected version of the document from President Muhammadu Buhari and immediately distributed same to individual members for their perusal.
Moving the motion for the second reading of the Money Bill on the floor of the House, the majority leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, in a lead debate described the budget as an all-inclusive document that seeks to carry everyone along.
He said, “The 2016 budget is epic and historical not just because of its super mega size of 6trillion but for reason that it touches on the economic and social well being of the people of Nigeria. It is epic because yes it is the highest budget ever proposed by a Nigerian government.
“Epic and historical because it is a budget that is coming at the advent of a historically low oil price and on the heels of a receding economy like never before.
“Epic and historical because it is perhaps the first really all inclusive budget that seeks to carry all Nigerians along. The rich, the not-so-rich, the poor, the not-so-poor and the vulnerable.”
The House leader further noted that given what the Appropriation Bill contains, the 2016 budget will stimulate the nation’s economy by way of injecting N6.08trillion into the economy particularly its capital expenditure component of N1.85 trillion.
Other members, who took turns to contribute to the debate on the budget, commended the budget particularly the unprecedented 30% capital expenditure, which they believed will positively impact on the wellbeing of the citizenry.
Some however called on the Standing Committees of the House to ensure adequate oversight of MDAs in order to ensure that monies appropriated are tracked to their desired destinations.
Meanwhile, the deliberations on the budget will continue today as the Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara will also this morning inaugurate the Constitution Review Committee, which is to be chaired by his deputy, Hon. Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun
APC, PDP senators disagree over 2016 Budget implementation
But the deliberation on the 2016 budget took another dimension on the floor of the Senate as the All Progressives Congress (APC) senators and their counterparts from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) expressed divergent views.
While the PDP senators sought for the withdrawal of the N6.8trillion budget, those of the APC maintained that the budget was in order.
It started when Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume sought for permission to lead the debate on the budget at the plenary session. He said the the budget would promote economic growth, job creation, poverty reduction and service delivery to all Nigerians.
Ndume’s submission threw the senate plenary in disarray as some lawmakers mumbled in disagreement, with some of them shouting “order”.
But Senator Babajide Omoworare raised a point of order, observing that the debate should be limited to the financial and economic situation in the country and the government’s financial policy.
“There was no need to even wait for any estimate because we are taking the general principles,” said Omoworare.
In his submission, Senator Olusola Adeyeye said the budget cannot be deliberated upon when it was cleary stated that it was the second day.
But the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, urged distinguished senstors to allow the leader should lead the debate, even as he approved the point of order raised by Sen. Omowarare.
Noting that debate on the budget could be extended to enable the lawmakers to be ready for their debate, Saraki said, “The debate is done on the general principles of the bill. We have always had a way of how we do our things here in the general interest. The leader proposed, he will lead the debate and we had allocated three days fromTuesday. If any senator is not prepared to contribute, we will adjust days so everybody is allowed to contribute. Let the leader lead the debate and if you need more days, we can create more days”.
But in his submission, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe ( PDP, Abia) pointed out that the 2016 budget is “a change in the wrong direction”, adding that because it was based on zero budgeting, Nigeria would go about borrowing.
Abaribe said, “It is a ‘Budget of Change’, I agree; but it is a change in the wrong direction. I say it is a change in the wrong direction because it says that it is based on zero budgeting, requiring all expenses to be fully justified. Mr. President, a budget that increases spending up to 30 percent based solely on borrowing. In what way is it justified? That is the question we want to ask the people, who brought this budget as change.
Speaking next was Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who noted that the nation’s Budget has always seen an increase over the years, from between 10 and 20 percent. Appealing to Nigeria to be realistic, Ekweremadu warned that the 2016 Budget would not be implementable if it is not reduced by 20 to 30 per cent.