Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives, yesterday, passed the 2020 Appropriation Bill for second reading, after it concluded debate on the general principles of the bill.
The House also adjourned plenary to October 29 to enable heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) appear before the various standing committees, which are to serve as Appropriations sub committees, for the defence of their budget estimates.
At the continued debate on the 2020 Appropriation Bill at yesterday’s plenary, lawmakers expressed divergent views on the budget.
Contributing to the debate, Dan Asuquo expressed dismay that details of the budget were not available to enable members make informed debate on the Appropriation Bill.
According to him “I am commenting on the speech and the intention of the Executive for 2020. I don’t have the details yet. I cannot speak about the budget I don’t have the details. For us, I will advise the leadership of the House, Senate and the Executive that Nigerians…I will address my people when the details of the budget comes.”
However, the deputy minority leader, Toby Okechukwu, in his contribution, said the budget does not offer much hope. He stated that the capital expenditure was reduced by the executive from what it was in the 2019 Appropriation act.
Okechukwu said it is unfortunate that the government is seeking to impose more tax on the citizens in order to fund the 2020 budget. This budget looks like a budget of standstill, the capital expenditure has been reduced from 2019, the debt servicing of N2.8 trillion. There is no country that can make progress with this. Health budget is 48billion. How can we make progress. This time, we are putting the chart before the horse.
This house is mandated by the constitution that any raise must be approved, Nigerians are burden with so much tax, I believe the budget will not work. I believe the money bill should have been brought before this. I was House committee Chairman for work, I stated that the commitment of the Ministry is 4trillion of contract awarded. Any believe that the country will move forward with this budget is a mirage, “ he stated.
Ken Chikere emphasized the need for know the population of the country to enable it generate the necessary data and statistics for proper budgeting system.
Besides, he argued that is need to ensure proper implementation of the 2020 budget, when it is eventually passed.
“We cannot make progress if we don’t know how many we are. We must not be shy in discussing how many we are. We are unproductive 200 million. I am not one of those who are carried away by 200 million population. I think this budget should be inclusive.”