AFTER several months of committee work, the Senate yesterday passed a budget of N4, 877,209,156,933 for the 2012 fiscal year with an oil benchmark of $72 per barrel.
Details of the budget presented by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Ahmad Maccido and passed by the Senate showed that N372, 593, 095, 601 is for statutory transfers and N559, 580, 000,000 for debt service.
The recurrent expenditure is put at N2,425,049,954,640 while capital expenditure is N1, 519,986,106,691.
Maccido stated that the budget contains N180 billion for the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) of the Federal Government and N888 billion for fuel subsidy.
He added that the Senate raised the oil benchmark from $70 to $72, which helped to reduce the provision for deficit budget of N1.162 billion by N98billion.
He explained that the deficit is less than N1billion.
Other highlights of the budget are as follows: Crude Oil Production 2.48mbpd; Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate 7.2 per cent: Inflation rate at 9.5 per cent and exchange rate of N155 to a dollar.
He spoke further: “It is important that in preparing the details of this bill, the committee adopted a benchmark price of $72 per barrel of crude oil recommended by the Committee on Finance.
“The Committee also adopted the Executive proposal of crude oil production of 2.48 million barrels per day and an exchange rate of N155 to US$1.”
The committee recommended that budgets should be forwarded to the National Assembly early enough for timely passage.
“It would be proper if a gap of three months is given between the time of laying and the end of the previous fiscal year. This is in line with the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007,” Maccido said.
He further advised that the conceptualisation of the budget by the Executive should be thorough before it is laid at the joint session of the National Assembly.
“This will quicken the passage and will not bring confusion among the legislators as this revised version almost did,” he added.
The Senate, which earlier dissolved into a committee of supply later resolved into a committee of the whole to consider and pass the budget.
It would be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan presented the budget to the joint session of the National Assembly in December last year but because of the partial removal of subsidy on petroleum products, he forwarded a revised version in February urging the lawmakers to expedite action. Due to the delay in presentation of the budget to the Legislature, the latter extended the period of implementation of the 2011 to March this year.
Speaking after the passage of the budget, President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, emphasized the need to lay budget proposal before the Legislature early.