The House of Representatives yesterday cut off funding for fuel subsidy in the N4.493 trillion budget for the year 2015 it passed yesterday. In the proposal approved by the House, outgoing President Jonathan and other former presidents and vice-presidents are to be maintained with N2.3 billion while N11.755 billion is for improved remuneration package for Nigerian police.
Meanwhile, the final figure passed was N135.4 billion higher than the N4,357,960,000,000 proposed by President Goodluck Jonathan when he presented the budget proposal to the National Assembly through the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in November 2014.The budget, was passed following a clause by clause consideration of the report of the Committee on Appropriation in the committee of supply.
The budget was passed on the basis of oil sales at $53 per barrel, production estimate of 2.2782million barrels per day and an exchange rate of N190/US dollar.The budget is pegged on a deficit of N1,075.303 trillion representing 1.12 percent as deficit/GDP respectively.
Breakdown of the final amount passed showed that N375.616 billion is for statutory transfer; N953.620 is for debt service; N2,607,132,491,708 is for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure while the sum of N556,995,465,449 is for capital expenditure in statutory transfer inclusive of N144.420 billion is for contribution to the development fund capital expenditure.
The approval, however, immediately generated controversy last night on the basis of the fact that there was no provision for fuel subsidy which last year was pegged at N200 billion. Rep. Opeyemi Bamidele, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Budget and Research in a sharp condemnation of the development also flayed as paltry the provision of N21 billion for the SURE-P programme.
Speaking on the development yesterday, Rep. Bamidele said:“While I commend the leadership and Hon. members of the House of Representatives for passing the Year 2015 annual budget of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as proposed by the executive arm of Government, I wish to place on record my own concern as a Patriot and Stakeholder in our national quest for good governance and democratic transformation.”
“Regrettably, no provision was made in the 2015 Appropriation Act for fuel subsidy. Other than a reduced amount of N21 Billion provided for SUREP, no other provision was made in the budget for subsidized welfare services.
“The most worrisome for me is the absence of provision for continued fuel subsidy. The political economy if this development and its grave implications must not be lost on all Stakeholders. This is more so when a new ruling party is coming into power by May 29, 2015.
“To my mind, this is definitely a booby trap for the incoming administration of Gen. Mohammed Buhari and I hope the All Progressive Congress (APC) as the incoming ruling party will understand the full implications of this and take immediate steps to let Nigerians know where it stands on this matter.
“Those who were suggesting within the APC that its incoming administration might withdraw fuel subsidy must be educated that they would be sending Nigerians a wrong signal capable of creating the impression that APC either deceived Nigerians to get their votes or had reneged on its electoral promise as a progressive party.
“The truth and reality of the situation is that the outgoing PDP administration has, through the Y2015 budget, removed oil subsidy and it must be made to accept responsibility for it rather than for the incoming APC administration to bask along in the euphoria of having won an election without realizing the booby trap into which they and the Nigerian people are walking into.
“This is a serious development and a defining moment that calls for the attention of all well meaning Nigerians at home and abroad. This is the first time in the last sixteen years of our civilian rule that a new political party will be taking over to form a Government and if care is not taken, this matter is capable of making the incoming Government morally dead on arrival except the issues are promptly dealt with in a way that the critical stakeholders, including the civil society, corporate Nigeria, political class and the generality of Nigerians will know the true state of affairs and who to hold responsible for the development.
“For the record and for posterity purposes, I am opposed to this sudden removal of fuel subsidy and I implore Nigerian patriots to be aware!”Under statutory transfers, Niger Delta Development Commission’s allocation was raised from N45.780 billion to N46.720 billion; Universal Basic Education’s allocation was raised from N67.3 billion to N68.380 billion; National Assembly’s allocation was raised from N115 billion to N120 billion; Public Complaint Commission’s allocation was raised from N2 billion to N4 billion while National Human Right Commission’s allocation was raised from N1.2 billion to N1.516 billion.
Meanwhile, the House retained the sums of N73 billion for the National Judicial Council and N62 billion for Independent National Electoral Commission were retained.
The breakdown shows that the sum of N153,330,022,460 is for Interior; N69,423,427,479 is for Youth Development; N62,226,771,999 is for office of the National Security Adviser; N58,274,429,975 is for Petroleum Resources; N48,389,942,264 is for Secretary to the Government of the Federation; N41,649,382,166 is for Foreign Affairs while N31,869,020,717 is for Agriculture and Rural Development.
The sums of N26,590,103,366 is for Science and Technology; N25,173,916,543 is for Works; N23,682,420,241 is for Information; N20,085,865,120 is for Presidency; N18,081,478,935 is for Tourism, Culture and National Orientation; N15,559,334,341 is for Environment; N10,941,859,480 is for Trade and Investment while N10,592,048,381 is for Communication Technology.
From the N13,965,664,092 approved for the eight Federal Executive bodies, the sums of N5,293,800,054 is for National Population Commission; N1,935,767,344 is for Code of Conduct Bureau; N493,656,088 is for Code of Conduct Tribunal; N2,207,213,456 is for Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission; N1,125,005,114 is for Federal Civil Service Commission; N740,477,185 is for Police Service Commission while N2,167,931,068 is for Federal Character Commission.