By Deji Elumoye
There were strong indications at the weekend that the revised 2020 Appropriation Bill presented to the National Assembly last Thursday may be passed on Tuesday (tomorrow) by the parliament.
Also, the $5.513 billion external loan request of the Executive to finance the proposed amended budget, may be approved by the approved on the same day by the two chambers of the National Assembly.
Sources told THISDAY weekend that the National Assembly committees like Appropriation, Finance, and Local and foreign debts in both the Senate and House of Representatives, from Friday through the weekend sat late into the night looking at the estimates and ensuring that they were at par with what the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, had pledged before the leadership of the National Assembly before now.
Specifically, the committees were said to be concerned about the N213.5 billion voted for COVID-19 Intervention Fund in the revised budget especially the beneficiaries.
A source hinted that there is the standing instruction to the committees to ensure that the proposed beneficiaries of COVID-19 Intervention Fund are spread across the six geo-political zones of the country.
“I think the concern of the leadership of the two chambers is even spread of the COVID-19 pandemic palliatives through the intervention Fund so that it can go around every needy Nigerian and not lopsided in any form.
“This is what the committees are working on along with other details of the budget proposal and will come out with a realistic Appropriation proposal at the end of the day for the two chambers to eventually approve,” a ranking Senator told THISDAY.
The Senate committee on Finance headed by Senator Adeola Olamilekan, last Friday held a
preparatory meeting to consider Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Papers (MTEF/FSP).
The meeting held in Senate committee room 204 will today continue with a view to producing a Report to Senate in plenary on Tuesday as part of urgent efforts to pass a Review 2020 Appropriation Bill following the disruption of COVlD-19.
Senator Olamilekan confirmed the committee meeting saying “Today I was on seat on National Assignment Chairing the Senate Committee on Finance preparatory meeting for consideration of Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Papers on Monday for a Report to Senate in plenary on Tuesday as part of urgent efforts to pass a Review 2020 Appropriation Bill following the disruption of COVlD-19.
“With me were other committee members including Senators lsah Jubrin, Uche Ekwunife, Danladi Sankara, Yusuf.A Yusuf, Akwashiki Godiya, while we later received Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Robert Borriface, Senator Jubrin Barau, and Senator James Manager, a fifth term Senator. National Assignment must be done.”
The Senate Finance committee is expected to wrap up its meeting in room 204 today before writing its report later in the day for submission at plenary tomorrow.
THISDAY further learnt the that the Senate committee on Appropriation chaired by Senator Barau Jibrin, which had also commenced its meeting at the weekend, will meet again today to also firm up its position on the revised Appropriation bill.
Also, the Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debts headed by Senator Sani Uba will today meet on the $5.513 billion external borrowing to fund the revised 2020 budget.
The meeting billed for Senate committee room 107, will involve Minister and heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) appearing before the committee to defend the loan requests.
THISDAY further learnt that once the reports of the committees on Appropriation, Finance and local and foreign debts are ready and laid before the two chambers at plenary on Tuesday, the leadership in plenary will suspend relevant sections of their rules to consider and possibly pass the revised 2020 Appropriation bill and approve the $5.513 billion external borrowing to fund the revised budget proposal.