National Assembly Passes N4,986trn For 2013 Budget …Approves FG’s $7.109bn External Borrowing Plan. The National Assembly yesterday passed the national Budget of 4,986,202,425,601 for the 2013 fiscal year, an increase of N62,598, 425,601bn from the proposal submitted by President Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan had submitted a budget proposal of N4,924,604,000,000. This is the first time since 2009 that the National Assembly is passing the budget before January of another year. In the breakdown of the budget as passed by the National Assembly, N387,976,000.00 was approved for statutory transfers; N591,764,000.00 for debt service while N2,386,024,770,349 is for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure. N1,621,477,655,252 is for contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure. According to the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Finance on the 2013 appropriation Bill, Senator Ahmad Maccido, he said “the committee adopted a benchmark price of $79 per barrel of crude oil. The Committee also adopted the executive proposal of Crude Oil production of 2.53million barrels per day and an exchange rate of N160 to US$1″. He pointed out that “the conceptualisation of the budget by the executive is still a big issue that we must confront as representatives of the people. There must be a verifiable template for budgeting especially on capital projects. If the painful sight of abandoned projects in Nigeria will be a thing of the past, then ongoing projects must be properly defined. “A situation where projects not found in 2011 and 2012 budgets are found in 2013 as on-going is very misleading. In the same vein, a situation where uncompleted projects, are not included in the budgets of succeeding years is wasteful.” He also urged the executive to be more thorough in compiling the budget, stressing that some areas of the budget are still under funded citing the Public Complaints Commission and the Auditori-General’s office. The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the budget passage hailed the National Assembly for passing the budget timely. He said this was the first time the budget would be passed before the preceding year. He however challenged the executives to ensure that the proper application of the budget” However Sen. Ita Enang however raised an objection to the passage of a section of the budget on grounds that it faulted the fiscal responsbility act. He said clause 10 which relates to Security and Exchanges Commission whose budget he said was still being processed by the National Assembly should not be passed by the Senate. “The Fiscal Responsibility Act does not allow us to pass that section of the Bill, because this is one the agencies that the fiscal responsiblity act demands that it brings its budget to the floor of the Senate.” The Senate however overruled him after his request was put up for voice vote. In same vein the Senate approved the President Jonathan’s request for $7.109bn for funding of pipeline projects under the medium-term (2012-2014) external borrowing plan. The projects under the borrowing plan covers projects at the federal and state levels. While the all the items listed for execution via the loans were approved, the Senate however rejected the proposal of $56.61m which is no longer required by Kaduna State for its National Urban Water Sector Reforms from the French Development Agency. Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Sen. Joy Emordi said “This is the first time since 1999 that the budget of a succeeding year has been passed in a preceding year. This is traceable to the leadership shown through the president and the hard work team shown by the leadership and entire members of the National Assembly. “The budget is the government most important economic government tool. By the early passage of this budget, the executive and the legislature have indeed made a joint statement that they are truly partners in governance and are increasingly taking steps to place Nigeria on a path to economic growth and prosperity.” They however adjourned for the festive period to resume on the January 16 2013.