The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) during the presentation of the 2023 budget at the National Assembly.
The Senate, on Wednesday, passed the N20.51tn 2023 budget for second reading. The budget was presented to the joint session of the National Assembly last Friday.
The passage of the appropriation bill by the upper legislative chamber for second reading followed the debate on its general principles by Senators, many of whom frowned at the rising recurrent expenditure component national budget on yearly basis.
In his contribution to the debate, Senator Ali Ndume ( APC Borno South) sought a thorough investigation into the rising recurrent expenditure despite the embargo placed on employment by the Federal Government and hundreds of retirees recorded on yearly basis.
According to him, the N8.2tn earmarked for recurrent expenditure in the proposed N20.51tn 2023 budget constitutes 43 per cent of the entire budget profile.
Ndume posited, “Mr. President, our relevant committees should thoroughly scrutinize proposals made in the N20.51tn 2023 budget by the executive, particularly the recurrent expenditure component which has been rising on yearly basis.
“Statistically, in the 2018 budget recurrent expenditure vote was N3.5tn, in 2019 it increased to N4.7tn, rose again in 2020 to N4.8tn, in 2021; N5.9tn, 2022 N6.9tn and astronomically projected as N8.2trillion for the 2023 fiscal year.
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“The yearly increases are even happening in the face of the embargo placed on employment in all the ministries and parastatals aside hundreds of civil servants retiring on yearly basis as well. The Senate and by extension, the National Assembly, needs to critically look into it this time around, more so, with the attendant increase in the votes for debt servicing which is projected to be N6.31trillion for the 2023 fiscal year and far higher than a capital vote of N5.35tn. “
Ndume also added, “Mr. President and very distinguished colleagues, we must thoroughly look into budgetary proposals made by the executive to prevent a situation of borrowing money for payment of workers’ salaries.”
Other Senators who made contributions were Tolu Odebiyi, Jibril Isah, Betty Apiafi, among others, frowned at the rising votes of recurrent expenditure.
Also, Apiafi said that the issue of oil theft should be looked into very critically as well as other areas of revenue leakages.
“In August this year, from 1.82m barrels oil production expected from Nigeria per day, the country was only able to produce 972 million barrels per day, losing 859million barrels per day to oil thieves.
“The loss in the stated month, translated into $59m per day and N9.5trillion per annum. This dangerous revenue loss must be stopped in the general interest of all,” she said.