The Senate has resolved to conclude final work on the N7.298 trillion 2017 budget proposal presented to the National Assembly for approval by President Muhammadu Buhari next week.
The 2017 budget estimates as presented by President Buhari on December last year was based on critical assumptions like $42.5 per barrel as oil price benchmark, 2.2 million barrels per day as proposed oil production, average exchange rate of N305 to the US dollar, etc.
The budget, the passage of which has been long expected, would be laid on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday next week, five days after the expiration of implementation of the 2016 budget signed into law on the May 5 last year.
Indications are rife that the 2017 budget would be passed finally before the end of legislative session next week. The Daily Times had reported earlier that the Senate was in the mood to end the controversy and tension over the budget to stave off pitfall against the national economy.
As earlier planned, the final work on the budget would have been presentation in the Senate on Thursday by the Chairman of its Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje (APC Gombe Central) as earlier listed the Order Paper. The Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan (APC Yobe North) had requested that the budget be stepped down of the item when called to lay the document.
The Senate leader said more time was still required for the Appropriation and Finance Committees of the two Chambers to finalise reports on the budget proposals. He told Senators that the leadership of the committees of both the Senate and the House of Representatives had assured him that the report would be read for presentation on Tuesday next week.
“I have also equally been informed by leadership of the committees that by the grace of God definitely the budget 2017 will be laid on Tuesday. Having said this, Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I will move that we stand down this report to Tuesday the next legislative day and I so moved”, he said.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, also affirmed the need for the Senate to be on the same page with the House of Representatives on the report, hence the necessity for extension of time for the final presentation. He said: “Let me also emphasise for the benefit of the public that we are minded to receive this report today (yesterday). It was only this morning that it was necessary for us to be sure that we are on the same page with the House of Representatives to avoid any possible conferencing.
“So what we like to see is for the House and the Senate laying just the same documents so that once we passed, we will now send the documents to the President for assent. “I think this is important that the point be made and the public know that the harmonisation which is going on should be concluded over the weekend to enable us receive the budget report by Tuesday and by the grace of God have it passed by next week and we send it to the President for assent.
“Let me also inform the public as well that the tenure of the 2016 budget ends tomorrow, Friday, May 5, because it was passed on the 5th of May 2016 but under the constitution, the Federal Government is entitled to continue to spend money based on the 2016 estimates up to the 30th of June, 2017.
“But we will not allow us to get into the reliance on the constitutional provision. Hopefully by the grace of God, we will have this budget next week. We will pass it so that implementation will start in earnest. So I just want to appeal for the understanding of the people of Nigeria”.