Wednesday, October 21, 2020

2021 Appropriation Bill Scales Second Reading

Following the conclusion of debate on its general principles, the 2021 Appropriation Bill has scaled the second reading in the House of Representatives.

During the debate on Wednesday, several members commended and condemned various proposals in the bill.

While some lawmakers said some provisions were inadequate to meet the demands of their constituents, others commended the government for releasing over 50 per cent of the 2020 capital budget.

In his contribution, a member, Nicholas Ossai, described the bill as “a budget of hardship” and not ‘A Budget of Economic Recovery and Resilience’ as the President Muhammadu Buhari administration named it.

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“We are servicing debt in the 2020 budget with almost N3.5tn and the 2021 budget with about N4.2tn. Is that a budget of recovery or hardship?” he said.

“A lot of people have described this appropriation bill as a bill of recovery and the future. But to me, after X-raying the document, including the projected revenue and the money that has been budgeted for, I see it as a budget of hardship; a budget of hardship because the projected revenue is N7.8tn while the actual budget estimate is N13.08tn. If you minus that, we are having a deficit of almost 50 per cent.”

The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, after the second reading, transmitted the money bill to the House Committee on Appropriations, with the standing committees of the House serving as sub-committees.

The Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government are expected to appear before relevant committees to defend their proposals in the budget.

This comes a week after President Buhari proposed the total sum of N13.08 trillion of which N485 billion is for statutory transfers; N3.3 trillion is for debt service; N5.7 trillion is for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure, while the sum of N3.6 trillion is for contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure for the year ending December 31, 2021.

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