By Haruna Salami
After discussing the general principles of the 2022 budget for the second day, the Senate suspended plenary till November 9, 2021 to consider the budget.
The Appropriation Bill was then read for the second time after senators took turns to make their contributions, which centred mostly concern over borrowing, and poor performance of the previous ones.
It was titled “A Bill for an Act to authorize the issuance from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation the total sum of =N=16, 391, 023, 917, 692 (Sixteen Trillion, Three Hundred and Ninety-One Billion, Twenty Three Million, Nine Hundred and Seventeen Thousand, Six Hundred and Ninety-Two Naira) only, of which =N=768, 276, 616, 043 (Seven Hundred and Sixty-Eight Billion, Two Hundred and Seventy-Six Million, Six Hundred and Sixteen Thousand, Forty-Three Naira) only is for Statutory Transfers, =N=3, 901, 952, 981, 550 (Three Trillion, Nine Hundred and One Billion, Nine Hundred and Fifty Two Million, Nine Hundred and Eighty One Thousand, Five Hundred and Fifty Naira) only is for Debt Service, =N= 6, 829, 015, 483, 446 (Six Trillion, Eight Hundred and Twenty-Nine Billion, Fifteen Million, Four Hundred and Eighty Three Thousand, Four Hundred and Forty-Six Naira) only is for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure while the sum of =N= 4, 891, 778, 836, 654 (Four Trillion, Eight Hundred and Ninety-One Billion, Seven Hundred and Seventy-Eight Million, Eight Hundred and Thirty-Six Thousand, Six Hundred and Fifty-Four Naira) only for contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure for the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2022 and for other matters connected thereto, 2021 (SB. 829) – Second Reading”.
Senator Abba Moro (Benue South)said if one takes a critical look at the figure churned out in the 2021 and the 2022 budget, he was of the view that implementation will remain the problem.
“We need to change our strategy in budget presentation and implementation” the former Minister of Interior said.
He gave the example of the celebrated 774 Public Works job handled by the Ministry of Labour and the so called N52 billion school feeding programme during Covid-19 pandemic both of which he described as a “scam”.
Senator Danladi Sankara (Jigawa North-West) raised the issue of the N5 trillion capital component of the 2022 budget and said he did not know what the North is benefiting. He said Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road is still no done.
“I don’t know where they are sharing their money to. I want the Senate to intervene, if not we will not understand what is happening”.
In his contribution, Frank Ibezim (Imo North) said if there is anything they could do as a Senate “is to encourage the Federal Government to stabilise the exchange rate of the naira, reduce the rate Nigerians relocate their families to Ghana, Canada, etc and patronise made in Nigeria goods”.
One issue that ran through the debate is the rate the government is borrowing money. But the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan said “borrowing is not bad, but we must insist that money borrowed are deployed in a transparent manner.
Lawan in his remarks enjoined the Petroleum Committees to monitor the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.
He vowed that the Senate will repeat the “feat” of passing the 2022 budget before end of December.