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Appropriation Bill 2022 passes second reading as Reps disapprove N410.15/$8 exchange rate

...Bemoan 'paltry' allocation of N134bn to NASS

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed through second reading, the Appropriation Bill (budget) 2022 to authorise the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, the total sum of N16,391,023,917,69 for the next financial year.

Out of the sum, N768.276 billion is for Statutory Transfers, N3,901 trillion is
for Debt Service, N6.829 trillion is for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure while the sum of N 4.891 trillion, is for Contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure for the year ending 31 December 2022.

The Bill was passed for second reading and referred to the Committee on Appropriation for further legislative action at the end of a-two day debate on the general principles of the proposed legislation.

Lawmakers in their contributions to the debate disapproved of the pegging of the 2022 budget on exchange rate of N410.15 per US Dollar and decried the allocation of N134 billion to the National Assembly in the proposed budget, saying it was poor.

Olawale Raji (APC, Lagos) anchoring the budget on N410.15 per US Dollar as exchange rate for the 2022 budget was a clear official devaluation of the Naira (N) and is bound to further impoverish Nigerians.

Raji said Nigeria is an import-dependent economy and devaluation of its currency over the years has not benefited the people in any way, leading to high rate of inflation, drastic reduction in the purchasing power of the citizens, increased cost of doing business, corruption and brain drain particularly among our highly skilled professionals.

“Rather than this continued devaluation of our currency, I recommend that efforts should be geared towards strengthening the Naira”, he said.

The Chairman, Committee on House Services also called for the
scrutiny of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) freedom to determine the cost of importing petrol and deducting the same from the country’s oil revenue account to check leakages.

Read also: Obiano presents N141.9b appropriation bill for 2022

Also speaking, the Chairman House Committee on Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata said having N410.15 per US Dollar as exchange rate while Dollar is sold at N570 in parallel market was ‘a voodoo economy’.

“There is no way we can develop when, for example, I will just approach the Central Bank, pushing documents, give me dollars at N410 and I go to the parallel market and sell at N570. This is a voodoo economy. It will injure the economy, therefore, I submit that the exchange rate should be brought closer”, he stated.

On the other hand, the House Spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu who acted as Majority Leader at the sitting lamented that the allocation of N134 billion to the National Assembly, representing 0.82% was grossly inadequate for the enormous duty of the parliament.

“The statutory transfer, there’s an increase from N484.49 billion and that is a reflection of 58 percent increase, and increase of N283.79 billion, do you know that this increase does not reflect on the amount that comes to National Assembly, but remember when there was a lower budget aggregate, it was reduced from N150 billion to N128 billion.

“Though we have challenges with our forex and purchasing power of our currency, why are we remaining on N134 billion. Do you know what N134 billion represents when compared to the percentage of statutory transfer? We are getting N134 billion again which represents 0.82 percent, it ought not to be so”, he maintained.

Meanwhile, chairman House Committee on Appropriations, Mukhtar Betara at a meeting with his members cautioned that no money should be taken from recurrent to the capital expenditure, and from capital to recurrent, except where it is absolutely necessary.

Betara asked lawmakers to desist from the practice of moving their zonal intervention projects to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which had no mandate to execute such projects, explaining that the practice has led to multiple return of such projects.

“As members of this Committee, you have to look at the subcommittee you assigned to you, and guide them in line with the guideline the Clerk will make available to you on Monday. We need to do a very clean job”, he stated.

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