Budget: Reps begin debate, say proposal realistic

Members of the House of Representatives yesterday commended President Muhammadu Buhari for presenting the 2020 appropriation bill on time and the viability of the proposal.

Presenting a synopsis of the budget for debate yesterday, House leader, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa (APC, Kano), said the timetable set out by the House for the consideration of the budget was sacrosanct and, as such, no ministry, department or agency would be entertained at the end of October.

He said the House was committed to passing the budget before end of the year as promised by the leadership of the National Assembly.

Contributing to the debate, chief whip, Hon. Mohammed Monguno (APC, Borno), said the philosophical cornerstone of the budget was investing in critical infrastructure.

He said: “Our population is growing at geometric proportion and our ability to put food on the table is growing at arithmetic proportion.”

Monguno said he was “happy that N83 billion has been earmarked for agriculture, although we are far away from the Maputo declaration.”

He said “another aspect of concern is the N38 billion to the North East Development Commission. We are aware of the devastation of the insurgency in the North-East; the N38 billion will go a long way and the N10 billion on defence centre will also go a long way in equipping the military.”

Also speaking on the budget, Hon. Mohammed Jega (APC, Kebbi) observed that Value Added Tax (VAT) increment, as announced by the president, would be beneficial to states and local governments. “It is important that the VAT regime excludes small scale enterprises with less than N25 million capital and also foods consumed by the people,” he said.

Supporting the bill, chairman of the House Committee on Federal Judiciary, Hon. Luke Anefiok (PDP, Akwa-Ibom), commended the president for bringing the budget in time.

He said: “We were promised infrastructure, we were promised sustained growth in 2020, now I am glad the president tagged this budget of sustainable growth and job creation.”

Also, giving support to the bill, Hon. Francis Waive (APC, Delta) said the 2020 budget projection was an indication that President Buhari was sensitive to plight of Nigerians.

He commended the executive for the huge funds allocated to works and power sector.

“Nigerians are impressed with the N100 billion earmarked for defence, especially with the kidnapping and general insecurity we are facing; this is the right step in the right direction.

“The oil benchmark is feasible with our recent history. I will like to point our attention to the steady GDP growth in the past year.

“It is important that VAT regime excludes small scale enterprises with less than a N25 million capital and also foods consumed by the people,” Waive said.

Earlier, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila had rebuffed a call by Hon. Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) to suspend debate on the budget pending the provision of its details by the Minister of Budget and National Planning.

Chinda had, through a point of order, argued that the “budget was unripe” for debate because the breakdown was not available to lawmakers, but Gbajabiamila ruled him out of order, explaining that “what the president laid yesterday is actually in line with our constitution.”

Debate on the budget continues today, even as the House is expected to suspend plenary till October 22nd.

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