2021 budget scales second reading in Senate

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The 2021 Appropriation Bill of N13.08 trillion on Thursday scaled second reading in the Senate.

This followed a three- day debate on the general principles of the budget of “Economic Recovery and Resilience” presented to a joint session of the National Assembly last week Thursday.

During the period, Senators took turns to appraise the strengths and weaknesses of the Bill.

Some Senators were particularly worried about the amount for debt service in the 2021 budget put at N3.124trillion and the proposal to finance the budget deficit through borrowing to the tune of N5.20trillion.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan threatened to deny funds to ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government, that fail to adhere strictly to the 2021 budget defence timetable.

Lawan, who revealed the budget defence would commence on Tuesday, also said the exercise would end in the first week of November.

He pointed out that ministers were expected to appear in person for the budget defence, warning that ministers who failed to appear within the stipulated time frame would not get allocation for their ministry.

Lawan recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, while presenting the Appropriation Bill to the joint session of the National Assembly last Thursday, directed that ministers should come in person for the budget defence.

He noted early consideration and passage of the 2020 budget, which returned the country’s budget cycle to January – December, has significantly boosted the implementation of this year’s budget.

On funds generated by agencies of government, Lawan faulted the country’s low revenue earnings due largely to the failure of revenue agencies to remit all funds realized to the Federation Account after collection.

He advocated for improved revenue generation, collection and remittance methods as a way of increasing the nation’s revenue profile.

The 2021 Appropriations Bill, which passed the second reading, was referred by the Senate President to the Committee on Appropriations for further legislative work.

The Committee, which is chaired by Senator Jibrin Barau (Kano North), was given four weeks to report back to the Senate.

Senator Barau later told reporters his committee has proposed to submit its report to Senate in plenary on November 3, 2020.

Barau spoke while outlining the timetable for the budget defence by MDAs at a press briefing.

He said the Committee would adhere strictly to the timetable and urged all MDAs to keep to the schedule.

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