John Ameh, Abuja
The House of Representatives said on Monday that each item in the N7.29tn budgeted for 2017 would be subjected to a thorough review by the National Assembly.
It noted that until such a review was done by various standing committees and approved by the legislature, the budget remained mere proposals by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, who spoke with The PUNCH in Abuja, explained that lawmakers would ensure that the controversies, which nearly marred the 2016 budget, would not be replicated with that of 2017.
Namdas, a member of the All Progressives Congress from Adamawa State, stated, “We have received the budget proposals from Mr. President. We now have a duty as lawmakers to look at the items one after another.
“The first step is that every member will get copies of the budget to study and this will assist them in pointing out key areas for the attention of the House.
“As soon as we reconvene in January, work on the details of the budget will begin.”
Asked whether lawmakers would increase the budget size, Namdas replied that the size was already “huge.”
He added, “N7.29tn is a huge amount; increasing it is not likely the way to go.
“However, the budget is the document eventually passed by the National Assembly.
“Nigerians should be patient till we reconvene in January.”
The President had, on Wednesday, December 14, laid the estimates of the budget before a joint session of the Senate and the House in Abuja.
The budget of “economic recovery and growth” is 20 per cent higher than the N6.06tn budgeted for 2016.
Its total capital component of N2.24tn is also higher than that of 2016 by 30.7 per cent, a projection Buhari said was made to spend more on infrastructure, solid minerals development, agriculture and provide support for local manufacturing firms to speed up growth.
Spending on recurrent expenditure is put at N2.98tn.
Although the budget’s anticipated revenue of N4.9tn is higher than that of 2016 by 28 per cent, it has a deficit of N2.36tn, representing 2.18 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.
The President told lawmakers that the deficit would be financed through a projected borrowing of N2.32tn, broken into N1.06tn (external) and N1.25tn (domestic).