Senate to begin 2018 budget consideration next week

The Senate has concluded plans to begin work on the 2018 Appropriation Bill on Wednesday.

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, made the announcement at the plenary on Thursday, urging legislators who were interested in participating in the debates scheduled to hold on the Wednesday and Thursday to begin their registration on Monday.

Saraki also said copies of the bill would be made available to senators by Monday.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, while briefing journalists, said the bill was a voluminous document, the reason why the distribution of copies to the lawmakers had been delayed.

When reminded that the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper was still pending in the National Assembly, Sabi-Abdullahi said the budget and the MTEF would be processed simultaneously.

“It is all intertwined. We are bringing all of them together that same week (next week). Already, we’ve already had a meeting on the MTEF and we are working on it,” he said.

When asked the MTEF would be passed before the budget as expected, the Senate’s spokesman said, “Of course, but this one (debate on budget) is just for us to commit it to the committees. The debate is for the second reading. That does not stop anything. By the time we will be finishing (with budget defence sessions), MTEF report would have been laid an everything would have been cleared. This is our innovation.”

President Muhammadu Buhari had presented the 2018 Appropriation Bill to a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives in Abuja on November 7, 2017.

The President laid a budget size of N8.612tn before the legislature for 2018, an increase of N1.7tn from the N7.44tn appropriated in 2017.

From the proposed N8.612tn for 2018, the President said recurrent costs would be N3.494tn, while N2.652tn was earmarked for capital expenditure.

He added that debt servicing would cost N2.014tn; and statutory transfers, N456bn.

The amount earmarked as Sinking Fund “to retire maturing bond to local contractors” was N220bn.

Other key assumptions of the budget are a crude oil benchmark of $45 per barrel ($44 in 2017); and oil production estimate of 2.3 million barrels per day, including condensates (2.2mbpd in 2017).

The exchange rate of N305/$ was planned for 2018, the same rate for 2017 budget.


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