Senate hikes 2014 budget by N53bn
• North East Senators kick
The Senate yesterday passed the 2014 appropriation bill and raised the initial proposal submitted by the Federal government from N4.63 trillion to N4.91 trillion.
A breakdown of the budget indicates that Statutory Transfers was allocated N408.6 billion, debt Service, N712 billion; recurrent expenditure, N2.4 trillion; capital votes of N1.1 trillion while the Subsidy Re-Investment Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) was allocated N268 billion.
The lawmakers unanimously voted in approval of the 2014 budget which put ministry of Education top on the allocation with NN373.5 billion; Defence N314.3 billion; Health N214.9 billion; Interior N145 billion; Works N106.3 billion while Service wide votes will gulp N301.8 billion.
Other allocations include of N7 billion for the ongoing national conference; N1 billion budgeted for compensation for 2011 post-election violence; N424.6 million will be used to pay off liability of the New Nigerian Newspapers; N5 billion is for building of the headquarters of the National Institute for Legislative Studies and N100 billion is for constituency projects of lawmakers.
Other major highlights of the budget include crude oil benchmark of $77.50 at a daily production target of 2.3883 million barrels (mbpd) and an exchange rate of N160 to US$1 and an inflation rate projected at 9.5%.
The executive proposal to spend a substantial part of the budget on security remained unaltered.
Speaking shortly after the budget was passed Senate President David Mark called on the executive to implement it as passed.
The executive proposal to spend N2 billion to revive the economy of ravaged North East remained without any increase despite appeals by Senators from the region for an upward review.
Coming under point of order, Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe), said the leadership and all Senators had agreed that the allocation needed to be increased but expressed shock that nothing was added by the Senate Committee on Appropriation.
“However, Senate President David Mark rebuffed Lawan insisting that the Senate will not make any addition to the amount proposed by the executive saying, “I will rule that we pass this. All the same we can then go ahead and make special case for that.”
This is the first in four years that the budget will be passed and signed in the second quarter of the fiscal year.
Wife of Borno State governor, Nana Kashim Shettima, commiserating with a victim of a recent bomb blast in Maiduguri, at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital in Maiduguri on Tuesday. OMIRIN OLATUNJI