Politics

2019 Appropriation Bill scales through second reading in Lower House

The 2019 Appropriation bill worth N8.73 trillion has passed through second reading on the floor of the House of Representatives.

President Muhammadu Buhari laid the 2019 budget proposal before the joint session of the National Assembly on the 19th December, 2018.

According to the document seen by our correspondent, the key assumptions in the 2019 budget proposal showed that 2.3mbpd pil production; $60 per barrel; 9.98 percent inflation rate; N119.28 trillion nominal consumption; N139.65 trillion; N139.65 trillion as nominal GDP and 3.1 percent GDP rate.

The sum of N500 billion was proposed for Social Intervention Projects (SIP), consisting of N350 billion recurrent and N150 billion capital expenditure.

The sum of N2.28 trillion was proposed for capital expenditure, inclusive of capital in statutory transfers; one percent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund amounting to N51.22 billion for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund and other related commitments.

As encapsulated in the budget proposal, Federal Government set revenue target of N6.97 trillion to fund the 2019 budget tagged ‘Budget of continuity.

“Most of the equipment procured in the previous budgets can’t be said to have gone bad to the extent that these subheads feature virtually every year,” a business management expert privy to the workings in the Presidency told our vorrespondent.

After the scrutiny of the budget proposal, Speaker Yakubu Dogara referred the bill to the joint committees on Appropriations, Finance, Loads, Aids and Debt Management for further legislative action, without timeline for submission of the report.

In line with legislative tradition, ministers and heads of various federal ministries, departments and agencies are expected to appear before relevant standing committees to defend their respective budget proposals.

Meanwhile, the House kept mute over the status of the 2019-2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), which was transmitted by the Presidency on 6th November, 2018 for consideration.

In a bid to curtail waste, financial and business development experts urged the National Assembly to look out for some suspicious subheads and duplications in the proposed expenditure captured in the budget proposal with the view to direct them to more purposeful initiatives.

These include but not limited to: the sums of N11,793,200 provided for Uniforms and other clothing, N240,730,180 as welfare packages, N30,187,032 for sporting activities; N39,773,525 for purchase of sporting /games equipment under capital expenditure and additional sum of N27,213,525 for purchase of sporting equipment for State House Sports Club; N12.5 million for procurement of equipment for central gymnasium as well as N98,306,492 for food stuff/catering material supplies, as we’ll as the sum of N5,488,832 provided for sporting activities in the budget proposals of State House (Headquarters) and office of the Vice President.

They also canvassed for thorough scrutiny of budgets of various MDAs with the objective to eliminate some subheads for which purchases of durable items such as furniture, were made in the 2018 Appropriation Act.

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