The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Sen. Ahmed Maccido, has expressed optimism that the Senate would pass the N4.357 trillion 2015 Appropriation Bill before the general elections. Maccido told newsmen on Sunday in Abuja that the Senate had set a two-week deadline to pass the budget.
He said that the Senate decided to peg the oil benchmark at 52 dollars per barrel in view of the dwindling oil price, preparatory to the passage of the Bill. He added that the Senate took the initiative as against 65 dollars per barrel as proposed by the Executive in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).
Senator Maccido explained that “we always have pre-budget meetings; the legislature and the executive. We have been having these series of meetings even before the budget was brought to us. “This is a forum where we iron out certain issues which could hinder the passage of the budget. “We had a meeting where certain parameters were agreed upon but this particular one, I assure you, we didn’t agree on the 65 dollars per barrel of oil proposed by the executive.
“This is purely the initiative of the Senate, having seen how the economy is going and we believe that the 52-dollar oil benchmark is the most realistic for the 2015 budget. Nigeria is not broke, we are expecting the passage of the 2015 budget as soon as in the next two weeks,” he said.
Speaking on implementation of projects before the expiration of the present administration, Maccido said the National Assembly was more concerned with completion of ongoing capital projects than initiating new ones. He said the National Assembly always emphasised on completion of projects rather than embarking on new ones.
He added that “considering the shortage in revenues, I believe the executive finds it expedient not to begin new capital expenditure but to complete ongoing ones. “We have been asking the executive to initiate meaningful projects and try as much as possible to avoid bringing up new ones except if absolutely necessary.” NAN reports that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have commenced budget defence before relevant standing committees of the Senate. The budget defence was preparatory to the passage of the 2015 Appropriation Bill.