Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia), has said the National Assembly increased the 2021 Budget from the initial proposal of N13.08 trillion to N13.58 trillion due to the prevailing economic realities. Both Chambers of the National Assembly had, on Monday, increased the budget proposals from N13.08 trillion to N13.58 trillion, amounting to N588.027 billion increase.
At a news briefing in Abuja, Kalu said: “As you know, on the 8th of October, the President laid the budget before the joint session of the House and the Senate and that budget had N13.08 trillion presented before us.
“What we passed was N13.58 trillion. It’s an increase from what the President laid before us and the realities we found on ground made us to push it to what we finally approved. “The House has approved N4.125 trillion on capital expenditure, N5.641 trillion on recurrent expenditure as well as N3.324 trillion is for Debt Service, N5.641 trillion on debt services.
“The House has also recognized that it’s important to have statutory transfers and N496.528 billion has been approved for that. This is to show our commitment to Nigerians that this budget is here to stay. It is also important to know that we benchmark the budget on $40 per barrel knowing fully well that our major source of income revenue is oil and gas.”
The House spokesman also disclosed that the National Assembly, last week, extended the implementation of 2020 capital budget to meet up with the delay caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
He said: “As you are aware, on Thursday (last week), we were approached by the executive to shape the implementation timeline of the 2020 budget from the end of December to about March of the coming year. The reason being that the impact of the COVID-19 made it difficult for them to actually implement the budget of the 2020 the way they ought to and that is the reality on ground.
“The House was actually impressed that the MDAs were able to raise this complain that if we go by the 31st December of the implementation calendar of the 2020 budget, the 75% of the fund allocated for implementation will be coming back to the treasury, which is not good for the implementation of things they proposed in the budget.
“So, we gave an extension of about 90 days for the implementation of capital expenditure. This will enable them to meet up with their target.” Kalu called on President Muhamadu Buhari to quickly give assent to Appropriation Bill passed by the legislature and ensure prompt and adequate release of funds to implement the projects captured in the budget.