Fred Itua, Abuja
The National Assembly has passed a consolidated budget of N9.1 trillion for the 2018 fiscal year, six months after it was laid before a joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking after its passage, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said the passage signalled a new development in the working relationship between the Legislature and the Executive.
He, however, called on the executive to send a supplementary budget to the National Assembly, to take care of fuel subsidy payments and argued that the current practice where over N1 trillion is spent on payment of fuel subsidy, without appropriation, is unconstitutional.
Saraki equally hailed the increment in the budget of the health sector.
According to him, primary healthcare in the country will get a facelift, while maternal and child mortality will reduce.
Earlier, Senate Committee Chairman on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje, said his panel premised 2018 expenditure on some key revenue assumptions.
Goje said the executive was consulted before the budget was jerked up by N508 billion and dismissed the public perception that the National Assembly unilaterally jerked up the budget.
The increment represents more than 10 per cent of the original budget of N8.612 trillion submitted by Buhari on November 7, 2017. Also jerked-up by is the crude oil benchmark which has been increased from its earlier $45 per barrel benchmark to $51 per barrel.
Crude oil production has been pegged at 2.3 million barrels per day while the foreign exchange rate is at N305 to a dollar.
The House of Representatives also passed the 2018 budget with a recurrent expenditure of N3,512,677,902,077, capital expenditure of N2,873,400,351,825, debt servicing cost of N2,203,835,365,699 and statutory transfers of N530,421,368,624.
Earlier, passage of the budget was delayed because the ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) had not submitted details of their budget proposals, which led to the Senate issuing them a one-week ultimatum to submit details of their 2018 budget proposals or risk sanctions.