Following the endorsement by the House of Representatives after the bill passed second reading, the Senate yesterday fixed February 25 for the passage of the 2016 Appropriation Bill.
The bill was committed to the Committee on Appropriation to coordinate budget defence by ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government.
Senate President Bukola Saraki warned senators against financial inducement in the course of budget defence by MDAs.
Saraki said any lawmaker involved in unwholesome conduct in the course of budget defence would not be spared.
On the general principles of the budget, Saraki said the proposal was a major departure from past budgets, particularly with regard to withdrawing focus on oil as major revenue source for funding the budget.
This to me and to all of us is the most important area of this budget in the sense that it will be a great foundation not only for today but for the future if this can be achieved.
Also, with the pegging of Capital Expenditure at 30 per cent, a number of comments were made about the level of borrowing but I think what matters is what the money is used for.
As of the percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), we are still within the limits and parameters but what is important is to ensure that the money is judiciously used for what it is meant for.
Saraki said the Senate would also take a look at the issue of benchmark and various budgetary allocations, where most senators expressed concern assuring that the National Assembly would work towards blocking areas of revenue leakages as well as look into the issue of fight against corruption.
It is important that the issue of blocking leakages is key and from the experience of the past we must learn from the past to work towards the future.
The committees should scrutinise these estimates and ensure that they are estimates that we can all put our names to.
The Zero budgeting of which the budget is premised on means some of the projects would be critically assessed to ensure that the projects were justified.
He added and then urged committees to do a thorough job to compliment the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje, while briefing reporters after plenary, said the Senate would adjourn today (yesterday) to allow for budget defence to take off.
Explaining the procedure of the whole activity, Goje said after today’s plenary, the senate would break into sub committees from February 2 to receive MDAs for the defence.
He also said all MDAs and sub-committees were expected to conclude their budget defence by February 16
Goje added that submission and defence of reports of sub-committees on Appropriations would take place between February 12 and 18, while collation and harmonisation of reports, and drawing of bill by the Appropriations Committee would be done between February 18 and 22.
He said the report would be laid before the Senate on February 24 while the Senate would consider and approve the budget on Thursday, February 25.
Goje explained that the aim of the Senate was to ensure early approval of the budget, so that the executive arm would have ample time (at least ten months) to implement the document.