The National Assembly on Tuesday approved N160 billion for the payment of the new minimum wage for federal workers and payment of severance benefits.
The decision followed the unanimous endorsement of the 2019 Budget presentation by the lawmakers at separate plenaries which held simultaneously in both houses and presided over by Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara at the National Assembly, Abuja.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Dec. 19 presented the 2019 Budget proposal of N8.83 trillion before the joint section of the National Assembly.
However, the Senate and the House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the 2019 Appropriation Bill, jerking it up from N8.83 trillion to N8.92 trillion with a N90 billion increase.
Under other service-wide votes, item 90 of the Report of the Senate Committee on Appropriation on the 2019 Budget Bill, which reads: ”public service wage adjustment for MDAs (including arrears of promotion and salary increases) and payment of severance benefits” has N160 billion as its budget.
Also, item 88 that reads: ”payment of outstanding death benefit to civil servants/police” has N5 billion for the budget.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Sen. Danjuma Goje, while addressing newsmen shortly after the budget passage, affirmed that the N160 billion was to fund the minimum wage increase and severance benefits as stipulated in item 90 of the report.
Goje, however, stated that if the amount budgeted failed to meet the demand, the Federal Government could present a supplementary budget to cover the shortfall.
NAN reports that the National Minimum Wage Bill, which was passed by the lower and upper house on Jan. 29 and March 19 respectively, was signed into law by President Buhari on April 18.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives on Tuesday said the National Assembly (NASS) would transmit the approved 2019 Budget of N8.92 trillion to President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday.
Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Rep. Mustapha Dawaki, made this known while briefing newsmen after plenary in Abuja.
Dawaki explained that the increase in total budget from N8.83 trillion was due to the inclusion of funds for “special interventions’’ made by the National Assembly.
He said that the interventions included the provision of N24.6 billion as severance allowance for outgoing lawmakers and N10 billion for Zamfara terrorism.
He said that the Christmas break and the general elections accounted for the delay in the passage of the budget.
“The President laid this budget on Dec. 18, 2018, but certain extraneous forces such as the Christmas and New Year breaks also affected quick passage of the Appropriation Bill.
“And, don’t forget that we had to go on break to fully participate in the February polls; all these were distractions that really affected the passage of the Appropriation Bill.
“Hopefully, by Thursday the budget will be transmitted to the president for his assent.
“We left the oil benchmark and exchange rate as sent by the executive, except for the deficit which we adjusted,’’ Dawaki said.
THE BUDGET 2019
The Senate on Tuesday, passed the 2019 Budget of N8.92 trillion as against N8.83 trillion presented by President Muhammadu Buhari on Dec. 18, 2018.
This followed the adoption of the report of Senate Committee on Appropriation at plenary.
Presenting the report, Sen. Danjuma Goje said the increase of N90 billion in the budget is to cater for security challenges in the country, packages for lawmakers and support for Zamfara state.
According to him, N23.68 billion was earmarked for severance gratuity for outgoing legislators and legislative aides.
He added that the amount was also for allowances for incoming legislators and legislative aides and induction programme and inauguration of the 9th Assembly.
He further said the sum of N10 billion was earmarked for Zamfara State, while security agencies had their budgets increased to cater for security challenges.
“There is a slight increase in the budget deficit.
“This is as a result of provision for severance benefits for the outgoing legislators and legislative aides and the induction and orientation and inauguration of new lawmakers. It was not captured in the 2019 budget.
“There was also the need to provide more funds for security and intelligence agencies to deal with additional emerging and unforeseen security challenges in the country,” he said.
He noted that Statutory Transfer stood at N502 billion, Fiscal Deficit-N1.9 trillion, Special Intervention N500 billion, Recurrent Expenditure-N4 trillion, Capital Expenditure-N2 trillion and Deficit to GDP of 1.37 per cent.
The chairman said of the statutory transfer of N502 billion, the National Assembly has a budgetary provision of N128 billion and Universal Basic Education Board (UBEB)-N112.47 billion
Others are, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) -N45.5 billion, National Judicial Council(NJC) -N110 billion Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)-N100.18 billion.
Others are, Public Complaints Commission (PCC)-N4.40 billion and National Human Right Commission (NHRC)-N1.5 billion.
He further said that the senate maintained key assumptions of Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper sent by the Executive.
He pointed out that Daily Oil Production stood at 2.3 million barrels per day, Oil Benchmark stood at 60 Dollar per barrel, while the Exchange Rate stood at N305 per dollar.
Goje also noted that total debt stood at N2.254 trillion, with Domestic Debt Service at N1.71 trillion, Foreign Debt Service at N433.79 trillion, while Sinking Fund stood at N110 billion.
On sectoral allocation for capital budget, he said the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, has N394.91 billion, followed by Ministry of Transportation with N179.38 billion, while the Ministry of Defence has N159.13 billion.
He further said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has allocation of N107. 22 billion, Water Resources-N92.18 billion.
The lawmaker also said that the Ministry of Education got N58.69 billion, Ministry of Health-N57.09 billion, Presidency-N33.15 billion and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs-N4.05billion.
On capital supplementation, Goje said the sum of N50 billion was earmarked for Special Intervention Programme(Capital), N45 billion for North East Intervention Fund, N15 billion for payment of local contractors’ debts and other liabilities.
He further noted that the sum of N3.5billion was earmarked for Counterpart Funding.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki called for prompt assent to the bill.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has also passed the budget.