Reps Set For Second Reading Of 2017 Budget
The House of Representatives is expected to pass the 2017 Appropriation bill through second reading on Thursday.
It is expected that the bill will be transmitted to the Appropriation Committee for further engagement with various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who was speaking at the end of the debate on the general principles of the N7.298 trillion budget proposal on Wednesday, urged members who wished to contribute to the ongoing debate to register their intention.
In his contribution, Chika Abubakar (APC-Niger) expressed displeasure over the spate of corruption in the public service.
Mr. Abubakar stressed the need for full implementation of the Public Procurement Act, which puts the profit benchmark on contract at 35 per cent.
He alleged that most of the contracts awarded by the MDAs had more than 200 per cent profit mark-up, and emphasised the need for various standing committees of the House to carry out their oversight functions effectively.
The lawmaker also applauded the successes recorded by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to increase the country’s foreign reserve and other intervention projects.
On his part, Dennis Amadi (PDP-Enugu), decried the bureaucratic bottleneck in the disbursement of allocations to about 600 implementing MDAs.
Mr. Amadi stressed the need for increase in local production of petroleum products in the country.
He also urged the Buhari administration to put necessary measures in place to organise and encourage Nigerians involved in local refining of crude oil increase it to 10,000 barrel per day for domestic market.
This, according to him, will reduce high dependence on foreign refineries, pressure on foreign exchange demand, and ensure adequate supply of diesel, kerosene and PMS across the country.
He also tasked the Federal Government on the need to boost local production of rice and other agricultural produces for which Nigeria had comparative advantage and invest in solid minerals, as well as; the need to encourage investment in tourism and transport sectors.
Also speaking, Igariwey Enwo (PDP-Bayelsa) urged the House Committee on Appropriation and other sub-committees to thoroughly scrutinise the budget proposal of all the MDAs with the view to eliminate all unclear sub-heads.
In his view, Ayodele Oladimeji(PDP-Ekiti), who emphasised the need for favourable monetary and fiscal policies, argued that the current interest rate charged by deposit banks posed great challenge to foreign and local investment.
He also harped on the need to provide enabling environment for the organised private sector to thrive, utilisation of the 29.9 billion dollars borrowing plans for 2017-2019 for massive provision of critical infrastructure across the country.
The lawmaker, who expressed reservation over the 44.5 dollars crude oil benchmark, noted that the price of petroleum products might be increased when the international price of crude oil increased.
He, therefore, called for provision of palliative measures that would cushion the effects of price increase on petroleum products in 2016 by the present administration.
On his part, Taofeek Adaranijo (APC-Lagos), urged all MDAs to ensure prudent utilisation of all resources by ensuring full implementation of the 2017 budget when passed into law for the benefit of ordinary Nigerian.
He also stressed the need to ensure adequate provision of forex for manufacturers, encourage existing and intending farmers to embark on commercial agriculture as well as address the challenge confronting the Niger Delta region.
While ruling, Mr. Dogara, who presided over the plenary session, assured that the debate on the general principles of the 2017 budget would be concluded on Thursday.
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