Expenditure of excess crude funds: Senate bars Executive

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The Senate, yesterday, said it would include a clause in the 2018 Appropriation Act that will bar the Executive from spending excess funds realised from the sale of crude oil.

It said though the law is explicit on how excess funds should be spent, the Executive arm deliberately refuses to revert to the National Assembly to get approval before spending the monies.

The Red Chamber took the decision when it considered and passed the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).

Deputy Leader of the Senate, Bala Ibn N’Allah, who mooted the idea, said the move to stop the “reckless spending” of non-budgeted funds by the Executive arm, was to ensure that the rule of law was followed.

The Senate also adopted the recommendations of its Joint Committee on Finance and Appropriation that 2.3 million barrels per day be approved, as proposed by the Executive for the 2018 budget.

Similarly, it adopted $47 per barrel as benchmark price and N305 to a dollar as official exchange rate. This approval is in tandem with the original proposal submitted by the Executive.

It adopted the projected N5.279 trillion for non-oil revenue in 2018 and approved N1.699 trillion for new borrowing for 2018 fiscal year. The Senate equally approved 3.5 per cent growth rate for the fiscal year.

The budget, which stood at N8, 612,236,953,214 was passed yesterday.The Senate expected to reconvene on Tuesday, December 19 for consideration of report of the budget for passage it into law.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives for most parts concurred with the Executive on the basic parameters in the 2018-2020 MTEF and FSP.

The approval of both documents came through despite attempts by a member, Betty Apiafi to draw the attention of the House to the status of recovered looted fund in funding the 2018 budget.

Before the consideration and the adoption of the report of the Committees on Finance, Appropriations, Aids, Loans and Debt Management, Legislative Budget and Research and National Planning and Economic Development on the 2018-2020 MTEF and FSP, the 2018 Appropriation Bill had scaled second reading on the floor of Green Chamber, with majority support.

Determined to pass the budget, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, tasked the committee on Appropriation to ensure that public hearing as scheduled was successful.

Saraki also advised government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to subject themselves to the scrutiny of Senate committees. He added that heads of MDAs who avoid the defence would be sanctioned.

“I want to urge heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies that this is no time for anyone to travel. We must conclude budget defense before the 19th of December, hence, we look forward to see those affected to honour our invitation,” Saraki said.

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