The 9th Senate led by Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday passed the 2022 Appropriation Bill for second reading.
The budget was passed after debate on its general principles which took more than an hour in the upper chamber.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari last week Thursday presented an N16.39 trillion budget proposal for the 2022 fiscal year.
President Buhari noted that the total expenditure of N16.39 trillion proposed for the Federal Government in 2022, N768.28 is for Statutory Transfers; N6.83 trillion is for Non-debt Recurrent Costs; and N4.11 trillion for Personnel Costs.
Others are N577.0 billion for Pensions, Gratuities and Retirees’ Benefits; N792.39 for Overheads; N5.35 trillion for Capital Expenditure, including a capital component of statutory transfers; N3.61 trillion for Debt Service; and N292.71 billion Naira for Sinking Fund to retire certain maturing bonds.
The budget has a deficit of N6.26 trillion, an amount representing 3.39 per cent of estimated GDP.
Lawmakers on Wednesday lamented over the increasing fiscal deficit and the government’s penchant for borrowing to fund capital projects.
Some senators, however, supported the decision of the federal government to borrow to build infrastructure, others advocated Public-Private Partnership (PPP) as an alternative to loans.
A lawmaker representing Rivers State in the senate, Betty Apiafy noted that the Buhari-led government is overborrowing.
She noted that Nigeria’s debt to revenue ratio at over 70 per cent is among the highest in Africa.
The Senate President on his part defended the federal government’s borrowings but noted that the loans must be judiciously deployed.
“Borrowing is not bad, but we need to ensure that what we borrow is judiciously deployed,” he said.
He charged the National Assembly committees to make sure that government resources were prudently used.
The bill, after scaling the second reading, was referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriations to report back in four weeks.
Meanwhile, the Senate has suspended the plenary till November 9 2021 to enable its committees to work on the appropriation bill.