Fuel subsidy must be included in 2018 supplementary budget, Senate tells Buhari

Senate President Bukola Saraki
Senate President Bukola Saraki

The Executive must provide for fuel subsidy in the supplementary 2018 budget, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said on Wednesday.

He said this in his comment after the passage of 2018 budget.

The Senate last month warned the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to halt illegal payment of subsidy without appropriation.

In a resolution, it asked the NNPC to make a formal request, through the president, for the inclusion of subsidy as an item in the 2018 budget to legalise the payment going forward.

Mr Saraki said the inclusion of subsidy in the 2018 budget will allow for an increment in the Excess Crude Account.

“In the area that we could not address, which is the issue of fuel subsidy, I appeal to the Executive to look into this for the interest of transparency, where an expenditure close to over one trillion must be captured in the budget and when the supplementary comes, the hope is that the executive does something about it. It is an important issue and must be addressed.

“Now that the crude oil price is up to ($)80, a lot of Nigerians are expecting to see our excess crude reserve account to be on a rise but if money is being used for subsidy, it’ll be difficult to explain. That is why it is important that we capture the subsidy into the budget.”

He called for a more harmonious relationship between the Executive and Legislature to ensure speedy passage of subsequent budgets.

“A lot have been said on areas of how we have passed the budget, on areas of how we could have passed the budget earlier. I think there’s definitely room for improvement in the area of cooperation and collaboration between the Executive and the Legislative arm of government.

“At least 50 per cent of capital expenditure of ministries, some of them, up till the end of February did not do their defence. I think this is the area that we must wake up as the two arms of government.”

Mr Saraki said the increment in the budget was done with due consultation between the two arms of government.

“Let me also comment on some of the wrong impressions regarding the issue of the increase in the aggregate expenditure. As highlighted by the chairman on appropriation, this has brought about a good working relationship between the Executive and the National Assembly. Both the Executive and the Legislature have seen areas where there’s need for intervention.

“We’ve heard the chairman of works telling us need for equitable distribution of road projects which has accounted for a significant amount. Power project intervention also. We have seen significant high percentage of capital expenditure in this 2017and I hope that that will lay a good foundation in 2018.”

Mr Saraki urged his colleagues to do proper oversight on MDAs to ensure the budget is well implemented.

The Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the 2018 budget, raising it by N500 billion.

Both chambers on Wednesday approved a budget that rose from N8.6 trillion to N9.1 trillion, six months after it was presented by the Executive.

President Muhammadu Buhari presented the budget to a joint session of the National Assembly on November 7, 2017.

Both houses of the National Assembly on had earlier Tuesday received the budget reports of their appropriation committees.

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