By Atinuke Nukay/TnTv Network
The Federal Government on Thursday made a change from its earlier plan of drastically slashing the previously passed N10.594trillion 2020 budget to N9trillion by reducing it with just about N85billion through a new proposal of N10.509trillion.
Consequently, the earlier approved N2.4trillion for debts servicing in the 2020 fiscal yearis now jerked up to about N3trillion, specifically N2.951.710trillion.
As highlighted by President Muhammadu Buhari to both Chambers of the National Assembly in separate letters to that effect, the newly proposed N10.509trillion is predicated on oil price benchmark of $25per barrel as against $57per barrel fixed for the earlier one.
The President in the letter explained further that aggregate revenue for funding the now revised 2020 budget is N5.09trillion which is 35% or N2.78trillion less than the one passed by the National Assembly and signed into law by him in December 2019.
Part of the N85billion reduced from the earlier approved 2020 budget is N11billion deducted from the N110billion capital votes allocated to the Judiciary in the previous budget.
The deduction was kicked against by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central), during the debate on general principles of the revised 2020 Appropriation bill.
He lamented the budgetary allocation to the judiciary which he says is less 1 percent of the budget. While asking that the initial allocation to the judiciary should be maintained because the Covid19 pandemic has also increased the demand of the justice sector.
Senator Bamidele in kicking against the proposal said the earlier votes of N110billion given to the Judiciary was not in anyway enough to drive efficiency within the arm of government, let alone N99billion it is reduced to now.
“Many of the courts have no air conditioners and functional public address system which were expected to be procured through the earlier approved votes.
“I most humbly submit very strongly that the N110billion approved for the arm of government should be retained in the revised proposal if it cannot be increased “, He said .
Meanwhile, Bamidele says he is impressed with the adjustment which didn’t affect the health sector because of the Covid19 pandemic. He also praised the attention given to the agriculture sector.
Senator Mathew Urhoghide ( PDP Edo South ) in his own contribution, called for caution on the increased external loans taking as according to him, the latest move , has jerked up debt serving for the 2020 fiscal year from N2.4trillion to N3trillion.
He also called for specifics on proposed N213.5billion COVID-19 intervention fund in knowing exact amounts to be expended on what and what .
Earlier in his lead debate on the revised appropriation bill, the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi ( APC Kebbi North), most of the assumptions underpinning the 2020 FGN Budget have had to be revised in the face of current realities, as Nigeria is vulnerable to the current global economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 crisis which has led to decline in Crude-oil prices and spikes in risk.
Other underlying assumptions of the revised N10 509trillion budget are 1.93million barrels oil production per day as against 2.3million barrel oil production per day earlier approved exchange rate of N360 to a US dollar as against N305 to a US dollar earlier passed and approved.
Other critical components of the newly proposed N10.509trillion budget are N398.505 billion as statutory transfers , N4.928.525trillion as recurrent expenditure and N2.230.912trillion as capital expenditure .
In his remarks, the Senate President , Ahmad Lawan directed the Committee on Appropriation along with Finance to work on it and the MTEF)FSP paper between now and Tuesday next week (2nd June, 2020).