Barring the last-minute change, the National Assembly would pass the 2024 Appropriation Bill of N27.5tn on Tuesday, December 19.
New Telegraph had earlier reported that the joint session of the House, Senate and the House of Representatives on Friday passed the ‘Renewed Hope’ budget for second reading.
The Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau, hinted during the plenary that the budget might be passed by the lawmakers on December 19 before embarking on their Christmas and New Year break.
During deliberations on Friday, senators applauded President Bola Tinubu for his good intentions for the country, but some lamented the failure of the executive to provide the details of the budget.
Tinubu pegged the budget deficit for the 2024 fiscal year at N9.18tn, according to him, the deficit would represent 3.88 per cent of the country’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Tinubu stated, “The N9.18tn deficit is lower than the N13.78tn deficit recorded in 2023, which represented 6.11 per cent of the GDP.
“The deficit will be financed by new borrowings totalling N7.83tn; N298.49bn from privatisation proceeds and N1.05tn drawdown on multilateral and bilateral loans secured for specific development projects.”
He added that his administration would limit the inflation rate to 21.4 per cent in 2024, adding that tax and fiscal policies were currently being reviewed.
“Our target is to increase the ratio of revenue to GDP from less than 10 per cent currently to 18 per cent within the term of this administration,” the President added.
To fund the budget, he stated that fresh loans would be collected, while the government would also explore public-private partnership arrangements to finance critical infrastructure.
The budget debate also saw senators expressing concerns about insecurity, unemployment, debt servicing, and the need for more investments in critical sectors
They highlighted the importance of addressing unemployment as a means to combat insecurity, investing in the power sector to create jobs, and managing debt servicing effectively.
Commenting on the budget, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, said it would be financed with less deficit than the situation in the past.
He said, “So, there will definitely be fresh loans, and if those loans are maturing, they will be financed. And as always, you’re not going to be financing all the loans from the revenue; so, they will be fresh loans
“There will be continuous reliance on loans, but less so. The important thing is that the size of the budget that is being relied on from borrowing is downsized.”
However, the senators called for a more comprehensive approach to budgeting that considers the needs of various regions and sectors. They also urged for greater oversight and expressed the need for realistic and impactful budget implementations. Some senators raised issues related to the lack of sectoral breakdown and detailed budget information for deliberations.
The House of Representatives also passed the N27.5tn budget for next year, with members discussing the need for higher allocations to education, health, and the equitable distribution of resources among regions. The debate allowed opposition lawmakers to highlight the realities in their communities and advocate for adequate budgetary allocations to address their constituents’ challenges.
Lawmakers also emphasized the importance of private sector involvement, expanding investment in non-oil sectors, addressing fuel subsidy removal effects, and increasing oversight of budget implementation.
The Speaker, Tajudeen Abbas, adjourned the plenary to December 12, 2023, after the passage of the N27.5tn Appropriation Bill. The various committees will engage in budget defence activities with Ministries, Departments, and Agencies during this period. The Senate will reconvene on December 12 and aim to pass the budget on December 19.