OrderPaperToday – The Senate on Tuesday commenced debate on the 2022 appropriation bill.

This comes after President Buhari presented the N16.39 trillion budget proposal for the 2022 fiscal year, Thursday last week.  

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who presided over the plenary, said the debate on the bill, which is slated for two days, continues today, Wednesday, October 13, 2021.  

He said out of the total expenditure of N16.39 trillion proposed by the Federal Government in 2022, N768.28 is for Statutory Transfers. While N6.83 trillion is for Non-debt Recurrent Costs; and N4.11 trillion for Personnel Costs.

Others are N577.0 billion for Pensions, Gratuities and Retirees’ Benefits; N792.39 for Overheads. Also, N5.35 trillion for Capital Expenditure, including the capital component of statutory transfers; N3.61 trillion for Debt Service; and N292.71 billion for Sinking Fund to retire certain maturing bonds. 

Lawan further explained that the expected total fiscal operations of the Federal Government would result in a deficit of N6.26 trillion Naira, an amount representing 3.39 per cent of estimated GDP. He said that the figure is slightly above the 3 per cent threshold set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007. 

Also, Senators took turns contributing to the debate on the 2022 appropriation bill, as they were allotted three minutes each to speak. 

Leading debate on the bill’s general principles, the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North), said the 2022 Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability places Defence and Internal Security as top priorities. Thus, it signaled the administration’s firm commitment to the security of life, property and public safety nationwide. According to him, the federal government’s fiscal operations, which would result in a deficit of 6.26 trillion Naira, can be tackled either by increasing taxes, cutting expenditure, and borrowing. 

However, Yahaya Abdullahi explained that an increase in taxes was not feasible because most of Nigeria’s population is made up of the poor. Furthermore, the lawmaker observed that it is more dangerous to sack workers to cut down on government spending, warning that doing so would expose the country to political and economic turbulence. 

Furthermore, he added that the country’s last borrowing option would allow the nation to survive the present challenges and stabilize the polity and economy. “In the 2022 budget, deficit spending has become necessary in order to ensure that the economy does not relapse into another recession after strongly coming out of the last one with a respectable 5 percent growth in the second quarter of 2021,” he said.

The lawmaker also added that “deficit financing is mainly to fund capital expenditure. This new borrowings totaling N5.01 trillion, N90.73 billion from Privatization proceeds and 1.16 trillion naira draw downs on loans secure for specific development projects.”  

“Although there is a growing concern over this administration’s resort to borrowing to finance fiscal gaps, let me state here that the debt level of the federal government is still within sustainable limits”, Senator Yahaya said.

Other Senators who spoke during the debate include the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South), Aliero Adamu (APC, Kebbi Central), Aliyu Wamakko (APC, Sokoto North), Ibikunle Amosun (APC, Ogun Central), and Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP, Taraba South). 

Courtesy: Office of the President of the Senate. 

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