The National Assembly has transmitted the 2020 Appropriation Bill to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) for assent. The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Mr Umar el-Yakub, confirmed this to our correspondent on Thursday night.
Responding to a question on whether the national budget had been transmitted to the Presidency and when, El-Yakub said, “Correct; today.” The presidential aide added, “And I am sure you know that the President will take his time to look at it all through before assent.” The Presidency had on December 6, 2019 said Buhari and the Federal Executive Council would scrutinise the 2020 Appropriation Bill passed by both chambers of the National Assembly on Thursday the 12th of December, 2019.
The scrutiny, according to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, is to detect if the lawmakers had padded the estimates in the national budget. The Senate and the House of Representatives had on December 5, 2019 concurrently passed the 2020 Appropriation Bill, raising the total estimates from the proposed N10.33tn to N10.6tn. The National Assembly had put a clause in the bill that the budget would run from January 1, 2020, bringing Nigeria back to a January-December budget cycle.
Of the new total sum of N10,594,362,364,830, the parliament raised statutory transfers from the proposed N556,700,000,000 to N560,470,827,235; raised debt service from N2,450,000,000,000 to N2,725,498,930,000; reduced recurrent (non-debt) expenditure from N4,880,000,000,000 to N4,842,974,600,640; and increased development fund for capital expenditure from N2,140,000,000,000 to N2,465,418,006,955.
As part of the N264,000,000,000 increment, the National Assembly raised its own budget from N125,000,000,000 to N128,000,000,000. Shehu, while speaking at a media chat organised by the House of Representatives Press Corps in Abuja, stated that the previous assemblies had been involved in budget padding scandals. The presidential spokesman, however, stated that the retired Major General would ensure that the bill was assented to in order to return to the January-December budget cycle.