Reps pass 2020 revised budget, raise sum to N10.805trn, including N4bn for Resident Doctors

• Approve $5.513bn external loan • N213.978bn for COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund • N200bn for wage increase • N2.3bn for ex-Presidents/Heads of States/VPs/Chief of General Staff • N1bn severance benefits to retired Heads of MDAs • N4.503bn for retired Heads of Service, PS, Professors • N100bn for Constituency Projects • N20bn additional support for Universities

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved the sum of N10.805 trillion Appropriation bill for the 2020 fiscal year, including the sum of N4 billion for Resident Doctors as part of efforts to ensure industrial harmony in the sector.

The approved budget was increased by N296 billion higher than the initial sum of N10.510 trillion proposed by Federal Government.

Breakdown of the budget showed that the sum of N422.776 billion (against the initial proposed N399 billion) is for Statutory Transfers; N2.952 trillion is for Debt Servicing; N4.938 trillion (against the initial proposed N4.929 trillion) is for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure while the sum of N2.489 trillion (against the initial proposed N2.231 trillion) is for contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure the year ending 31 December 2020.

The revised budget was about N300 billion lower than the N10.594 trillion passed by the National Assembly and signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2019.

Under the Statutory Transfer, the House also increased the National Assembly allocation from the proposed N115.2 billion to N128 billion; increased National Judicial Council (NJC) allocation from the proposed sum of N99.2 billion to N110 billion; increased proposed N4.23 billion to N4.7 billion for Public Complaint Commission now stands at N4.23 billion

The House, however, retained the proposed sum of N44.200 billion for Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and N51.120 billion for Universal Basic Education (UBE); N36 billion for Independent National Electoral Commission; retained N2.25 billion for National Human Rights Commission; retained N20.945 billion for North East Development Commission and N25.560 billion for Basic Health Care Fund.

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Out of total sum of N2.952 trillion approved for debt servicing, the sum of N1.873 trillion is for Domestic Debts while N805.470 billion is for foreign debts while the sum of N272.900 billion was also approved for Sinking Fund to Retire Maturing Loans.

Under the recurrent expenditure, Ministry of Defence got the highest allocation of N784.037 billion, followed by Ministry of Education with N479.576 billion; Ministry of Police Affairs with N393.834 billion; Ministry of Health with N336.598 billion; Ministry of Interior with N212.947 billion; Ministry of Youth and Sports Development with N162.210 billion and office of the National Security Adviser with N115.565 billion.

The sum of N2.3 billion was approved as entitlements of former presidents/Heads of States and Vice Presidents/Chief of General Staff; N1 billion for severance benefits to retired Heads of Government Agencies and parastatals; N4.503 billion as benefits of retired Heads of Service and Permanent Secretaries and Professors; N100 billion for Constituency Projects; N20 billion additional support for Universities; N213.978 billion for COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund.

In his lead debate, the Majority Leader, Hon. Ado Doguwa explained that the need to amend the 2020 budget was necessitated by the global effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said it had become necessary to review the parameters of the 2020 budget with the view to meet the present-day realities and in the interests of all Nigerians in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The revised budget was passed after clause by clause consideration of the report of the Committee on Appropriation by the Committee of Supply chaired by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.

While giving synopsis of the report, Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Muktar Betara said the increase in the revised budget was for interventions to cushion the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the country.

Also at plenary, the House approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to borrow $5.513 billion to finance the deficit in the 2020 budget.

Breakdown of the loan indicated that the federal government intends to borrow $3.4 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for rapid financing instrument; $1.5 billion from the World Bank for development policy financing; $500 million from the African Development Bank for Covid-19 crises response budget support operation and $113 million from the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB) to part-finance the 2020 revised budget deficit.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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