By Babajide Okeowo
There are worries that the 2022 Budget might not be ready this year as the National Assembly is yet to transmit the budget to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent with barely three working days to the end of the year.
This worry stems from the over N700b added to the budget by the National Assembly. It is believed that the President might withhold his assent over the increase until he scrutinizes the document.
The President is required to diligently study the document, particularly the areas of difference between his original proposal and the one eventually passed by the National Assembly.
The Senate had, last Wednesday, passed N17.126 trillion as Nigeria’s 2022 national budget, a day after the House of Representatives approved the same figure.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, had assured that bill would get to the Nigerian leader the following day for signing.
In his speech moments before the upper legislative chamber proceeded on recess last Wednesday, Lawan, who noted that the timely passage of the 2022 budget would ensure the commencement of its implementation by January next year, had stated:
“For the 2022 Appropriation Bill, we are expecting that the bill will be cleaned up between today (last Wednesday) and tomorrow (last Thursday) and we hope that by tomorrow (Last Thursday), the bill will be sent to Mr. President for his assent.
“And we are very optimistic that Mr. President will assent to the bill, as he did for 2020 and 2021 so that by January 2022, the implementation of the budget 2022 will commence by the grace of God.”
However, the bill is still with the National Assembly. A source disclosed that the necessary clean-up on the document was yet to be completed, a development, he said, made the sending of the bill to the President impossible.
The procedure for a budget bill or any money bill is that after the two chambers of the federal legislature have concurrently passed it, the Clerk of the National Assembly (CNA) ensures that it is prepared for transmission to the President for assent.
The lawmakers had raised Buhari’s proposal of N16,391,023,917,692 to N17,126,873,917,692 before eventually passing it.
They also approved 1.88mbpd daily oil production and $62 as against the $57 proposed by the President.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Jibril Barau, had explained that the increase in the oil price benchmark was to reflect the current value in the international market, adding that the exchange rate was pegged at N410.15/$1.
The budget bill, as passed, provided N869,667,187,542 for statutory transfer; N6,909,849,788,737 for recurrent expenditure; N5,467,403,959,863 for capital expenditure and N3,879,952,981,550 for debt servicing.