2017 Budget:Buhari’s $29.96bn loan request top agenda as N’Assembly reconvenes
Debate on the 2017 budget and the bid by President Muhammadu Buhari to secure a $29.96bn foreign loan will top the agenda as the National Assembly reconvenes in Abuja on Tuesday (today) after the Christmas and New Year break. The lawmakers took a 26-day break soon after Buhari presented the estimates of the N7.29tn budget to a joint session of the National Assembly on December 14.
The 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework, which has yet to be approved by lawmakers, is also billed for consideration.
By the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, the approval of the MTEF and Fiscal Strategy Paper, precedes any consideration and discussions on the budget.
One senior legislative official, explained, “The report on the MTEF and FSP was adopted by members after it was reported from the committee stage before the break.
“However, the details will still be laid out for members to approve them item-by-item before we move into the budget proper.
“As for the budget, the first thing that will happen is that members will begin to pick up their copies as they reconvene, for study before the debate will commence.”
In the House of Representatives, the Notice Paper for the resumption, which was obtained on Monday, also indicated that at least 18 bills would be treated this week, beginning from today (Tuesday).
Four of the bills, two each on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, would be consolidated, while 14 others would be debated for second reading.
For example, one of the bills, which seeks a mayoral status for the Federal Capital Territory, is expected to be debated for second reading today.
The long title of the bill, which is jointly sponsored by Mr. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta and Mr. Zephaniah Jisalo, reads, “A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Administrative and Political Structure of the Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory and other Related Matters.”
The House had put the consideration of Buhari’s request for $29.96bn loan on hold before the break after the Senate rejected it outright.
But, findings on Monday, showed that the loan would be revisited again and be debated side-by-side the budget.
Incidentally, the loan has been programmed as one of the funding windows in the 2017 budget. The budget came with a deficit of N2.36tn.
When asked to comment on the loan, the Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, confirmed that the controversy surrounding the loan had not been resolved.
However, he expressed the hope that members would place national interest above all other issues while discussing the President’s request.
In the Senate, topping the agenda are the 2017 budget, the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper and the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.
The lawmakers will also continue work on the amendment of the Code of Conduct Bureau/Code of Conduct Tribunal Act, a process that has generated controversy.