The Nigerian Senate at its plenary on Thursday, January 26, in Abuja, passed the 2017 Appropriation Bill of N7.3 trillion through second reading.

This followed the consideration of the general principles of the bill, which started on Tuesday.

The Senate also adjourned sitting till February 21, to give room for budget defence by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) before the relevant committees.

In his remarks, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, commended the lawmakers for their robust debate on the bill.

He urged them to ensure a thorough defence process within the next three weeks to enable the National Assembly pass an implementable budget.

“As I commit this appropriation bill to the Appropriations Committee and the sub committees, we should objectively review the planned expenditure.

“We should also review the revenues in line with the main objectives of the budget we have discussed.

“This include, pulling us out of economic recession, investing in our people, laying foundation for a diversified sustainable inclusive growth and pushing our agenda for a made in Nigeria products.

“In doing this, we must take note some of the contributions by our colleagues which I took time to take note.

“There was great concern to the fact that we passed a law that one percentage of Consolidated Revenue Fund should go to the health sector and to date it has not been implemented.

“We also talked about the capacity of government to ensure that the borrowings that are promised do come in because without that the capacity to implement the capital project would be an issue.

Saraki also expressed concern about issues of the duplication of expenditure recorded in the 2016 budget.

He urged the committees to also scrutinise issues of computers, cars and some other items that kept appearing in the budget yearly.

“The committees should please be very vigilant in these areas to block leakages. The other areas are the issue of independent revenue and to ensure that more money can come into government coffers.

“The two innovations that we are bringing in, one is a public hearing which is going to take place likely in the week between February 7 and February 8.

“Also the meeting with the leadership and chairman of the committees which is scheduled to take today but I am going to announce a new date for it,” he said.

Saraki further urged the committees to ensure equitable distribution of projects to ensure a sense of belonging by all.

He called on them to put in their best to ensure that the passage of the bill was smoother than that of 2016.

He referred the bill to the Committee on Appropriation to report back to the Senate in three weeks.

(Source: NAN)