Senate concludes debate on 2022 budget, Reps begin today

Senate concludes debate on 2022 budget, Reps begin today

The Senate will on Wednesday (today) conclude its debate on the general principles of the 2022 Appropriation Bill which it started on Tuesday.

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, presided over the plenary, where senators bared their minds on the bill.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) had last week presented a N16.39tn budget proposal for the 2022 fiscal year to the joint session of the National Assembly.

Leading debate on the general principles of the bill, the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, said the 2022 Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability placed defence and internal security as top priority, signaling the administration’s firm commitment to the security of life, property and public safety nationwide.

He said the fiscal operations of the Federal Government which would result in a deficit of N6.26tn could be tackled by increasing taxes, cutting expenditure and borrowing.

He, however, explained that an increase in taxes was not feasible because of the high poverty level in the country.

According to the lawmaker, it is more dangerous to sack workers in a bid to cut down on government spending, as doing so will expose the country to political and economic turbulence.

He said the country’s last option of borrowing would allow the nation survive the present challenges and stabilise the polity and economy.

Abdullahi said, “In the 2022 budget, deficit spending has become necessary in order to ensure that the economy does not relapse into another recession after strongly coming out of the last one with a respectable five per cent growth in the second quarter of this year.

“Deficit financing is mainly to fund capital expenditure. This new borrowings totalling N5.01tn, N90.73bn from privatisation proceeds and N1.16tn drawdowns on loans secure for specific development projects.

“Although there is a growing concern over this administration’s resort to borrowing to finance fiscal gaps, let me state here that the debt level of the Federal Government is still within sustainable limits.”

Other Senators who spoke during the debate include the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South), Aliero Adamu (Kebbi Central), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto North), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun Central), and Emmanuel Bwacha (Taraba South).

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives will on Wednesday begin the second reading of the 2022 Appropriation Bill during which members are expected to debate the general principles of the national budget.

At the plenary on Tuesday, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the second reading would last for two days.

Gbajabiamila said, “We are going to distribute copies of President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter and budget to lawmakers. Members who are interested in debate on the budget as presented – the merits and demerits and the general principles of the budget as presented by Mr President – please send your names to the Clerk.

“We will be having the debate for two days – Wednesday and Thursday – after which we will suspend plenary for work to start on the budget – the budget defense. The timetable will be released to the committees by tomorrow.

In another development, the House resolved to set up an ad hoc committee with the mandate to investigate abandoned Federal Government properties across the country to “provide compendium of all illegally encroached (sic) Federal Government abandoned properties across the nation and overseas; and forceful acquisition of all Federal Government properties by individuals and corporate organisations across the country and overseas.”

The committee is to also investigate all the illegally acquired properties and lands by government agencies in the country and allow them to get justice.

The panel is to report back within six weeks for further legislative actions.

A member, Ibrahim Isiaka, had moved a motion titled ‘Need to investigate encroachment/illegal structures on Federal Government’s infrastructure in Nigeria,’ which the lawmakers unanimously adopted.

 Isiaka said, “The House notes the menace of interloper developers, farmers, land grabbers, hoodlums and destitute encroaching on the developed or undeveloped property of government in Nigeria, which has become a worrisome development in the country.

“The House is aware that all land owned by the Federal Government in states is being used by federal ministries, departments and agencies and that such lands are administered by the President through the relevant ministers, and not the state governors.

“The House is worried that critical infrastructure of government such as educational institutions, airports, railway terminals and tracks as well as pipelines, training farms and sundry economic tree plantations are encroached and illegally occupied by individuals and corporate organisations, and quit notices issued to the illegal settlers over the years, had not been obeyed.”

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