Budget 2017 tops agenda as Senate resumes
The Senate resumes plenary today with the N7.289 trillion 2017 budget topmost on its agenda. The Upper Legislative Chamber, it was learnt has resolved to beam its searchlight on all key assumptions upon which the budget was based. It would also examine critically the revenue base.
With the highest recurrent expenditure allocation of N482.37 billion going to the ministry of interior, President Muhammadu Buhari had on December 14, 2016 presented the budget documents made up of N2.24 trillion capital expenditure and N2.98 trillion recurrent expenditure.
The serious bone of contention had been what some senators called the unrealistic exchange rate of N305 to the US dollar. However, all issues relating to the budget assumptions and revenue profile were part of the terms of reference given to the John Enoh-led joint committee that had been processing the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP).
The 2017 budget proposal was also based on a crude oil benchmark of $42.5 per barrel, an oil production estimate of 2.2 million barrels per day. The budget documents was also built on aggregate revenue of N4.94 trillion.
Meanwhile, expectations that members of House of Representatives would begin the consideration of this year’s budget soon were dashed yesterday by the House Chairman, Rules and Business, Emmanuel Orker-Jev.
In an interview with The Guardian in Abuja yesterday, the lawmaker said members went on vacation for the Christmas and New Year holidays on December 15, last year without receiving copies of the 2017 budget proposal.
In Orkev-Jev’s defense, the time between the presentation and vacation was too short to allow for mass production of the document for each of the 360 members of the House.
“The procedure is to first distribute copies of the budget to each member of the House well ahead of time for studying before members can debate the general principles of the budget in plenary. As I speak, copies have not been distributed to members.We are thinking of beginning to do so next week,” he said.