Determined to pass the N27.5trillion 2024 Appropriation Bill before the end of this month, the Joint National Assembly Committee on Appropriations has given a 48-hour deadline to all sub-committees to submit their reports on the 2024 budget.
Recall that President Bola Tinubu had last month, presented to the joint session of the National Assembly, N27.503trillion as total projected expenditure for 2024 fiscal year, out of which N18.324trillion is set as targeted revenue while N9.18trillion is deficit to be financed by internal and external borrowings as well as proceeds from privatization.
Meanwhile, the Sub-committees have begun submitting their reports to the Senator Olamilekan Adeola, Ogun West led APC, joint committee on Appropriations.
The Committee on Tourism chaired by Senator Ireti Kingibe and that of Diaspora and Non-Governmental Organisations headed by Sen. Victor Umeh, led in submitting their reports.
In his remarks, Adeola who urged all the sub-committees to keep to the deadline and by so doing, ensure that the National Assembly would meet the January-December budget cycle, said, “I am appealing to all my colleagues; I am ready and the deadline is Wednesday this week to receive all reports, all standing committees of the senate.
“By Wednesday, any agency or any committee that has not submitted their report before the committee, it is assumed that you are giving us the omnibus power to go ahead and treat your budget independently of that committee.
“So, we are appealing to all chairmen of various committees to please submit their reports on or before Wednesday this week.”
From the sub-committee reports submitted on Monday, the Lawmakers’ attention was drawn to two issues, one of the fate of 136 Nigerians trapped in Ethiopian prisons, and the second is the N5billion proposed in the budget to revamp the Obudu Cattle Ranch in Cross River State.
While submitting his report, Umeh said some of the 136 Nigerians serving various jail terms had sought to be transferred to Nigeria to serve out their punishment.
However, he told the committee that the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), which is responsible for handling their matter, is handicapped due to poor funding.
For instance, Umeh said the commission was given a budget of N1.2bn for 2024, out of which N652.9million was earmarked for capital expenditure.
But, Umeh stated that, looking at the workload of NIDCOM, N4.9bn was recommended by his committee as agency’s capital budget.
Umeh explained that this would cover five new line items introduced to the budget, including addressing the plight of Nigerians in prisons, organising Diaspora summits and other projects to coordinate the activities of Nigerians living outside the shores of the country.
Responding, Olamilekan promised that the committee on appropriations would review the report and find a way to shore up the budget of NIDCOM, “considering the very important work they have been doing. We will pay attention to NIDCOM in our reporting stage. However, we will do a review of the five new lines and prioritise them.”
On her part, Senator Kingibe submitted to the committee that out of the N7.9bn proposed as the capital budget of the Ministry of Tourism, over N5bn was earmarked for the Obudu Cattle Ranch.
She said it was not proper in her view, for one geopolitical zone to take more than half the total capital vote of the agency, to the neglect of other zones.
The committee replied her that, while her point was taken, members would investigate how the N5bn would be spent, to be sure that it would actually go into the revamping of the Obudu ranch.
“We will investigate why we are spending this N5bn in just one geopolitical zone.
“But, we have to also understand that we are still not yet there with this money allocated to tourism.
“ We have to do more if we really want to drive tourism in this country”, Olamilekan stated.
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