House Okays 2014 Budget For Second Reading


SAN FRANCISCO, February 13, (THEWILL) - Finally, the  House of Representatives Thursday  passed for second reading the 2014 Appropriation Bill.

This came after the House indicted the Finance Minister, Dr.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, of violating the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2003.

The House also urged the minister to without delay forward details of the 32 corporations as required by the FRA 2003.

Although the House passed the budget, it was not without hassles as members took turns to lambast the Executive for proposing what they described as an anti-people budget.

They particularly picked holes in the N7 billion for the National Conference.

The flood gate of criticisms was opened by the Minority Leader, Hon.

Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos), who described  the proposal as voodoo economics.

According to him, 'when you say a 23.
7 percent capital budget will create jobs and provide inclusive growth, it is voodoo economics; when you allocate N700 billion (15 percent of your annual budget to debt service.

How would N700 billion for debt and N1.
1 trillion for capital projects claim to be a job-creating and inclusive growth budget?' He said: "It is a lie when you bring a budget that has fiscal deficit of N912 billion (82 percent of N1.

1 trillion capital expenditure and you call it a budget of job creation and inclusive growth! Almost every kobo for capital will be borrowed i.

more debt.
"For goodness sake, health sector with sorry state of our health delivery system is allocated 50 percent of the budget, a paltry sum.

In 2001 African Heads of State here in Abuja made commitment to allocate 15 percent to health sector.

Practically all other countries have met the target; please save Nigeria.

" Gbajabiamila maintained that it is strange that under the Ministry of Finance allocation, N924 billion Service Wide Vote, of which N21 billion is for election logistics outside the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) itself.

In his contribution, Hon.
Yakubu Dogara (APC, Bauchi), described as a waste the N7 billion earmarked for the proposed national conference.

" He cited similar proposal in the 2013 budget estimate, with N8 billion allocation for the building of African First Ladies Secretariat in Abuja which the National Assembly rejected and called for the review of the amount during the consideration.

He told the members that by the recent modus operandi for the delegates' selection into the conference, there was a clear lack of confidence shown on the National Assembly, despite that the members were "elected clearly by Nigerians.

" In his debate, Hon.
Mohamed Monguno (APC, Borno), who is the chairman, Committee on Agriculture frowned at the reduction of the sector's allocation from the 2013 budgetary allocation.

He said there is a reduction of about N20 billion from last year's N80 billion, which leaves the sector with far less than the recommended 10 percent charter signed by most African countries, including Nigeria.

Several members had indicated intention to speak on the budget proposal but the Speaker, Hon.

Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who presided at the session said such contributions should be reserved for the committee stage.