With less than 28 days to the presidential election, the Nigerian Senate has assured that the 2015 Appropriation Bill will be passed within two weeks.
It would be recalled that Senate announced last Thursday that there would be no plenary session on Tuesday and Thursday this week, to enable various committees hold budget defence sessions with ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government on the N4.357 trillion 2015 Appropriation Bill.
The defence of budget proposals by MDAs started last week in both chambers of the National Assembly.
Disclosing this over the weekend in Abuja, the chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Ahmed Maccido (PDP/Sokoto), explained that the $52 oil benchmark adopted in the budget and Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) passed last week by the Senate, rather than the $65 proposed by the executive, was the initiative of the red chamber after consideration of happenings in the international crude oil market.
Sen. Maccido noted also that they were the ones who impressed it on the executive that rather than initiate new projects that will not be funded, ongoing projects should be continued to prevent them from being abandoned.
“We’ve always had pre-budget meetings – the legislature and the executive. We’ve been having these series of meetings, even before the budget was brought to us. This is a forum where we iron out certain issues which could be hindrance to the actual passage of the budget.
“We have had a meeting a few days ago where certain parameters were agreed upon but this particular one, I assure you, we didn’t agree with the $65 per barrel of oil which they brought. This is purely the initiative of the Senate, having seen how the economy is going and we believe that the $52 oil benchmark is the most realistic for the 2015 budget”, he said.
According to him, the National Assembly has always emphasized the completion of ongoing projects rather than embarking on new ones.
“We’ve been asking the executive to bring projects that are meaningful, projects that are ongoing which, we believe, are in the best interest of the people, and try as much as possible to avoid bringing new ones except they are absolutely necessary”.
Dismissing the notion that the country was cash-strapped following the declining price of oil on the global market, Senator Maccido said: “Nigeria is not broke”.