The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, commenced debate on the corrected version of the 2016 Appropriation Bill of N6.08 trillion, as submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Leader of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC-Lagos), in his lead comment on the budget proposal, appealed to members to aid its speedy passage.
Gbajabiamila, who described the budget as historical, added that it was an inclusive one that sought to carry all Nigerians along, pointing out that with a N2.2 trillion deficit, it would be the first time that domestic borrowing estimated at N984 billion was higher than foreign borrowing N900 billion.
He commended the Buhari administration’s proposal to spend N500 billion for social intervention initiatives, adding that it would provide for the recruitment and training of 500,000 unemployed graduates.
“It is an epic budget because it is a budget based on the internationally acclaimed zero- based budgeting system, where every kobo has been justified by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)”, he said.
According to Gbajabiamila, when there is a downturn in the economy, “you rejig or stimulate the economy by pumping more money into it. This is what this budget seeks to do. Stimulate an otherwise wobbling economy by infusing and injecting N6.08 trillion into it, particularly its capital component of N1.85 trillion, representing 30 per cent of the budget”.
Rep. Mohammad Monguno (APC-Borno) decried the poor implementation of budgets by previous administrations, saying that, “year in, year out, we pass the Appropriation Bill into law, but when it comes to implementation it is done haphazardly.
“For example, for the past four years, there was never a time our budget was implemented up to 60 per cent; so there is a need for us to emphasise on the issue of budget implementation.”
However, Rep. Abiodun Adeogun (PDP-Osun) said that income projection from the country’s non-oil sector was weak.
“When the bill gets to the various committee levels, amendments should be effected to address the non-oil revenues,” Adeogun said.
Rep. Jimoh Olajide (APC-Lagos) canvassed for the support of the National Assembly in monitoring the implementation of the budget for Nigerians to feel the impact.
He commended the Federal Government for earmarking N12 billion to rebuild the North-East that was ravaged by insurgency.
Rep. Herman Hembe urged the Federal Government to ensure it founds means of funding the budget.
“Our job, as parliamentarians, is to rally round the president and ensure that this budget is done justice to, so that he will be able to do the best for Nigeria at these difficult times.
“I know that when we pass this budget, Mr. President will do everything within his means to ensure that this budget is funded,’’ Hembe said.