THE 2020 Appropriation Bill on Tuesday scaled second reading in Senate, a week after it was presented to the National Assembly.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on October 8, presented the fiscal document of N10.33trillion to a joint session of the National Assembly for consideration and approval.
The Senate had immediately allotted three days to take contribution from its members on the general principles of the 2020 estimates, tagged: Budget of Sustaining Growth and Job Creation.
The debate which commenced in the upper chamber Wednesday last week ended yesterday after which the Senate Leader, Senator Abdullahi Yahaya, moved a motion for the bill to be read for the second time.
Following the motion which was approved by the senators, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, thanked his colleagues for the painstaking consideration and incisive comments on the budget.
He expressed the readiness of the National Assembly to ensure speedy passage of the fiscal document in order to reorder the nation’s budget cycle to commence from January to December.
He called on government agencies to use the two weeks window when the Senate would not be in plenary to defend their budgets before its relevant committees.
He warned that any agency of government that fails to attend the defence sessions would risk not having allocation for next year.
He said the Senate would resume plenary on October 29.
He noted that revenue generation is a major challenge to the budget, saying proactive measures must be taken realise its full implementation.
Lawan said: “We are seriously challenged in the area of generating revenues, and it appears that until something drastic is done, this shortage of revenue will continue to militate against the implementation of the budget.
“We have to continuously engage the revenue generating agencies and schedule quarterly evaluation to be handled by our relevant committee, particularly the Senate Committee on Finance.
“We need to look at how we can enhance the capital allocation. The shortage of funds will militate against that.
“We have serious challenge when only 30per cent is devoted to capital budget; but that is an improvement from what we inherited from 2014 when the allocation was 15 per cent. But that is not to say we cannot do better.
“We have so many agencies of government, over 600 of them and we have to pay.
“Probably, we need to look at how we can streamline the agencies; that is not to say that we will lay off workers, but we must establish the functionality and usefulness of these agencies.
“We also need to look at the direction of Public Private Partnership, especially in the laying of physical infrastructure. We can concession our roads, instead of taking money from China.”
He called for a knowledge-based economyand urged the Federal Government to create an enabling environment that would lead to job creation for the youths.
He said: “We cannot realistically attract even domestic investments in any sector without security; not to mention direct foreign investments into our country.
“The funds may not be enough, but when properly applied we can achieve positive results.
“Our soldiers and other personnel of security agencies who are exposed to dangers need to be properly remunerated.
“Their allowances must be given to them at the right time, because these are incentives that we owe them.”
Lawan cautioned agencies such as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to submit their budgets to National Assembly as failure would lead to no allocation for next year.