President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday, announced that President Muhammadu Buhari would present the 2021 budget estimates to a joint sitting of the National Assembly next week.
Welcoming lawmakers back from the Senate’s annual recess, Lawan commended the Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning for the comprehensive legislative work on the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.
Recall that the Federal Government had last month announced plans to spend a record N12.65tr in 2021, despite the severe revenue constraints characterized by low crude oil prices and drop in economic activities due to the lockdown.
In an economic outlook released by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning on Monday, August 18, the new spending plan represents a 17.2% increase over the N10.8tr revised budget signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in July. It is also despite the low oil prices which account for about 60% contribution to the nation’s revenue, and the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2021 proposed budget projects a debt service payment of about N3.1tr, a little less than 25% of the total spending plan, while revenue is projected at N7.5tr, with the government focusing on completing as many ongoing projects as possible. In 2020, the government envisages that no new works would be allowed unless there were adequate resources to complete ongoing projects.
Tuesday’s statement by Ezrel Tabiowo, Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate, quoted Lawan as saying consideration of its report by the upper chamber would precede presentation of the 2021 budget estimates next week by President Buhari.
The presentation of the report to the Senate for consideration “is a precursor to the presentation of the 2021 Budget Estimates by the Executive Arm of Government soon.
“I am aware that the Executive will be presenting the 2021 Budget Estimates by next week,” he noted, adding that the upper chamber will give a month’s window for budget defense by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.
“Like last year, the month of October, 2020 will be dedicated for this exercise. Subsequent months of November and December will be dedicated to the internal processing of the Budget by NASS.
“The various MDAs are therefore advised to ensure that they avail themselves the opportunity of the Budget defense window to appear with all the relevant and necessary information to defend their Budget Estimates,” Lawan stressed.
Speaking on the revised 2020 Budget, Lawan emphasized the need for both chambers of the National Assembly to carry out oversights to ensure proper implementation, stressing that same must be “targeted at addressing the specific challenges occasioned by COVID-19 Pandemic.”
The Senate, he continued, “needs to pay particular attention to the implementation of the Federal Government Economic Sustainability Plan.
“The strategic Plan is an essential means of revamping our economy, as it provides interventions in the Mass Agricultural Programme, Infrastructure, Mass Housing Programme, Investments in Healthcare Infrastructure, amongst others.”
On the Petroleum Industry Bill, the Senate President said the Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Petroleum Resources (Upstream), and Gas had preliminary engagements with the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and other stakeholders in the nation’s oil and gas industry to discuss the critical piece of legislation.
According to him, “the PIB has been conveyed to the Senate for consideration.”
Speaking on the ongoing Constitution Review, the Senate President said same will be expeditiously carried out by the upper chamber “to improve the quality of governance and ensure stability in our polity.”
He added that amendments to the Electoral Reform Amendment Bills will enhance free, fair, transparent, and credible elections in our country.
Lamenting the security situation in parts of the country, the Senate President underscored the need to continuously seek enduring measures to arrest the situation, pledging the support of the Senate to provide the necessary legislative intervention at all times to improve the situation.