Senate approves $12.4bn debt supplementary budget

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November 23, 2005/Source BDay




Senate has passed the $12.4billion supplementary Appropriation Bill sent to it by President Olusegun Obasanjo to offset the Paris Club debt of $6.4billion.

The passage of the Bill yesterday took less than 20 minutes. It was read a third time and passed following the report of the senate committee chairman on Appropriation, Abubakar Maikafi.

Maikafi in the report said that the committee during its sitting on Monday to consider the bill noted that the Supplementary Appropriation Bill \"is an unusual one\" saying \"it is so because this is the first time a request is made for appropriation of funds from the Federation Account\".

According to him, \"our position is that the approval from Federation Account is contrary to sections 81 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. Specifically, section 81 (2) authorises the National Assembly to appropriate funds out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation. Therefore, anything outside this is an aberration to the constitution\".

\"Having realised the need to take advantage of the unusual window opened by the Paris Club of creditor nations, we are obliged to come under the coverage of Part II section 166 (1) of 1999 constitution and recommend the consideration of the request from Mr. President and approval of the request from the Consolidated Fund of the federation.\"

Maikafi said. \"In doing so, we took into consideration that fact that the country’s debt profile is a summation of the amount owed by the Federal Government and that of the component states\".

He informed his colleagues in the report that since the senate was constrained by the provisions of the constitution not to appropriate funds from the Federation Account \"and in view of the fact that the debt owed by the states must also be paid by them, we therefore recommend a set-off of those debts owed by the states in accordance with section 166 (1) of the 1999 constitution\".

\"In considering the above, we have deleted the words \"Federation Account\" and replaced it with the words \"consolidated revenue fund of the Federation\". We have also deleted clause 2(1) of the bill, which requires the endorsement of the Houses of the Assembly of each state of the Federation\".

An attempt by Kanti Bello during consideration of the bill after the presentation of the report to raise Order 92 (1) querying while senate should approve $12.4billion instead of the $6.4billion for the debt was ruled out of order by senate president, Ken Nnamani, before the bill was eventually passed and went for third reading.

The bill was first mentioned and debated last Thursday and referred to the committee on Appropriation for consideration.

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