By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, yesterday explained that the National Assembly increased the 2017 budget from N7.3 trillion to N7.45 trillion because it opted to capture some important projects such as the second Abuja airport runway in the budget.
Lawan told journalists in the State House that the second Abuja Airport runwayÂ and other projects were covered from the difference in the $42.5 oil benchmark proposed by the executive and the $44.5 passed by the legislature.
“We have been able to capture for example the second Abuja airport runway which we all need in this country; we have suffered from having only one,â€
â€œWe have also been able to capture in the national assembly from that fund the completion of the Baro inland port. We have also been able to also include the Abeokuta airport. There are so many other things including the Warriâ€“ Aladja rail line and so on and so forth.
â€œThese are newly introduced capital projects from the proceeds, the difference between the $44.5 (passed by the national assembly) and the $42.5 benchmark that we received from the executive.
â€œSo, we have done fantastically well. There were no major issues like we had last year during the processing of the budget.â€™â€™
He also said what the National Assembly passed was still within the scheme of what the executive presented, explaining that there were no significant changes in the allocations.
He said even though the National Assembly tinkered with the budget in few cases, it ensured that it did not distort the appropriation.
â€œThere wonâ€™t be, in my opinion and judgment, any issue whether the national assembly has tinkered with the budget because we havenâ€™t done much tinkering with it,â€
â€œWe have been able to agree mostly with what the executive has presented. But I want to assure you that this is one budget that the national assembly has worked so hard to ensure that every part of the country gets something just as proposed by the executive.â€
He also said the increase in National Assembly was done to enable the institution execute some capital projects adding that the increase was done the two dollars difference in the oil bench mark.
He listed such projects to include construction of National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) which he said was meant for capacity building of legislators and non-legislators alike.
â€œYou need to have a National Assembly that is really poised, wired and competent to produce good laws.
â€œImagine a National Assembly where you have so many experts, many retired people from the industry, security services, even presidents, for example, coming to the National Assembly.
â€œSo, we should have a National Assembly that is properly and fully kitted and with adequate capacity,â€ he stated.