NASS suspends holiday to consider 2020 revised budget

President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila [PHOTO CREDIT: speakergbaja on IG]
President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila [PHOTO CREDIT: speakergbaja on IG]

Members of the National Assembly will suspend their recess and reconvene on Thursday to consider the 2020 revised budget, an official has said.

The clerk of the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, made this announcement in a memo dated May 26.

“This is to inform all distinguished senators and honourable members that resumption of plenary earlier scheduled for Tuesday, 2nd June, 2020 has been rescheduled to Thursday, 28th May, 2020 to enable members consider the Appropriation (Amendment) bill, 2020.

“All distinguished senators and honourable members are expected to resume plenary by 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, 28th May, 2020,” the memo read.

The lawmakers had suspended legislative activities for two weeks to celebrate Eid-el-Fitr.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, however warned that the holidays may be cut short to consider the revised budget as soon as communication was received from the executive.

“…We are also not unmindful of one important issue – the amendment of the 2020 Appropriation Bill and the MTEF FSP which we passed in December,” Mr Lawan had said. “As soon as we have the request from the president on the budget and MTEF, we should be able to come back as soon as possible even if it is within the recess period. Because that is what the country is waiting for especially in the light and direction of the pandemic.”

“But we have a process. When we get the documents, we will distribute to senators to read before we come back. Our relevant committees (budget, finance and petroleum upstream) will engage relevant ministries and agencies to get necessary details before consideration. We will not reconvene until everyone is given the documents to read, so that they will be in a better position to do what’s possible,” he also said.

Revised budget

The federal government had in April, cut down the 2020 budget by over N320 billion and proposed a new budget of about N10.3 trillion against the N10.6 trillion passed by the National Assembly.

This was as a result of the gloomy global economic realities caused by the coronavirus pandemic as well as recent crisis in the oil market.

The new budget proposal reduces the oil benchmark from $57 per barrel to $30 per barrel while the oil production volume was reduced from about 2.2million barrels to 1.7 million barrels.

The revenue projection for the 2020 budget was also reduced by N3.3 trillion (about 39 per cent) from the initially approved amount of N8.4 trillion to N5.1 trillion.

The exchange rate was also increased from N305 to N360 to a dollar. This is based on the devaluation of the naira by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers on Thursday reportedly received details of the revised budget proposal and the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework/Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) from the executive.

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The chairman of the Senate committee on Appropriations, Barau Jibrin, confirmed this to journalist after a meeting with the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed.

The lawmakers are expected to debate details of the bill on Thursday.

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