2020 budget: Reps commence debate

Unemployment: Reps to investigate recruitment process in MDAs
Access Bank Plc

The House of Representatives on Wednesday began the debate into the general principle of the 2020 Appropriation bill.

The ₦10.33 trillion budget was presented on Tuesday by President Muhammadu Buhari before a joint session of the National Assembly.

The both chambers of the assembly had earlier assured of passage before the end of the year.

The members of the house, however, began debate in a motion moved by the Leader of the House, Rep. Ado Doguwa.

In his contribution, Rep. Mohammed Monguno (APC-Borno) commended the Federal Government for the allocation to the Agriculture sector and the North East Development Commission (NEDC).

The agriculture sector got ₦83 billion while the NEDC got ₦38 billion.

“Our population is growing at geometric progression, and our ability to put food on the table is growing at arithmetic progression and agriculture is the most important way of solving unemployment.

“I am happy that ₦83billion has been enmarked to agriculture, although we are far away from Maputo Declaration on food security,” he said.

Also speaking in support of the bill, Rep. Luke Onofiok (PDP-Akwa Ibom) commended Mr President for his commitment to ensure the timely implementation of the budget.

Onofiok also lauded the Federal Government for allocation to investments in sea ports in the Niger Delta.

“I will like to commend the President for bringing it in time, so that we can implemennt the budget starting January.

“We are now at the year 2020 we used to look at; we were promised infrastructure and sustained growth in 2020, now we are moving to the year 2020.

“Of importance is the increase in recurrent expenditure, which the president explained is to take care of minimum wage, and funding of salaries of security personnel,” he said.

The lawmaker, however, expressed concern that the amount allocated to Debt Service was more than what was allocated to Capital Expenditure.

The planned Debt Service for 2020 was put at ₦2.45 trillion while Capital Expenditure was ₦2.14 trillion.

Also, Rep. Salam Bamidele (PDP-Osun) urged the house to look at the possibility of increasing the allocation to Social Investment from ₦30 billion to “at least ₦100 billion”.

Furthermore, Rep. Rotimi Agunsoye (APC-Lagos) urged the National Population Census (NPC) to conduct a new census, to ensure proper planning.

“I will like to talk on population census, if we are planning, we must know the population of the actual Nigerians.

“The last census was in 2006, and we are 2019, we have been estimating our population; it is important that we know the population, so that we can know our needs,” he said.

Agunsoye also expressed concern on the porous nature of the country’s borders.

The house, however, suspended the budget debate till Thursday, Oct. 10.