Senate passes N574,533b as extra budget
The Senate yesterday passed N574,532,726,857 billion as the 2015 supplementary budget. It is N108,895,800,000 billion higher than the N465,636,926,857 billion proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly for approval two weeks ago.
While passing the extra budget, the Senate explained that the addition was to make it possible for government to pay subsidy claims for the three months of October, November and December which were not accommodated in the initial N413, 363, 134, 505 billion voted for the payment of subsidy claims.
The budget, as passed, is made up of N522,258,934,505 billion for payment of subsidy claims and N29,958,865,512 billion for Operation Zaman Lafiya, a name given to the military operations against insurgents in the North East. Other expenditure items contained in the extra budget include N10.6 billion for outstanding payment of the service gratuity and allowances of ougone and incoming legislators and legislative aides.
Another N5billion was voted for payment into the Victim Support Fund established to take care of the victims of insurgency.
At the end of the session yesterday, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, directed that committees of the Senate on petroleum and finance sectors should properly monitor the payment of the subsidy claims and expose any corrupt practice that may be associated with it.
Saraki said: “In passing this supplementary appropriation bill, we have looked at both the request of the executive and particularly the sufferings of Nigerians. At the same time, we warn the ministries and agencies in charge of this expenditure to make sure that these funds are judiciously used.
“The oversight committees, particularly those of appropriation, downstream petroleum and anti-corruption must expose, with the hope of sanction, any of these companies or agencies that take the opportunity of the suffering of Nigerians to abuse this money.
“This is a huge amount of money and I even believe that the so- called anti-economic sabotage agencies, this is where their work is. It is truly economic sabotage where billions of naira are being approved but not judiciously used. Our committee on anti-corruption must play a role to oversee every single payment. We have made provisions till December so we must ensure that the money is used properly.”
He urged Nigerians to rise in support of government in putting an end to subsidy just as he directed all relevant Senate Committees to work out appropriate legislative measures to assist in achieving subsidy removal.