Budget 2017: Senators To Cut Overheads By N200bn

Senate National Assembly Complex
National Assembly Complex

CHAIRMEN of Senate Standing Committees on Tuesday resolved to drastically reduce overhead costs allocated to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the 2017 budget in an efforts aimed at saving some funds in the budget.

The Senate Committee Chairmen resolved after a meeting with the leadership of the red chamber to experdite action on the passage o the budget but also concluded to cut the overheads in the budget

A source at the meeting said that the lawmakers are looking at reducing the budget by as much as N200 billion.

The red chambers collaborative effort with the Civil Society under the platform of Citizens Wealth Platform (CWP) had recommended the reduction of overheads by N151billion in a document submitted to the National Assembly during the public hearing on Budget 2017.

Sources at the meeting however confirmed that the Senators agreed to reduce most of the frivolous expenses and requests for purchase of computers and computer accessories.

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“We decided to make some savings by reducing the overheads and especially the proposals for purchase of computers and accessories and many other identifiable frivolous allocations,” a senator said, adding that the final figure could stand at about N200 billion.

Sources at the closed session held between the leadership of the Senate and the Chairmen of the committees on Tuesday said that the lawmakers agreed on the key issues around the budget and also resolved to pass the Budget my second week of March.

Sources at the meeting told Tribune Online that the chairmen agreed with the Senate President and the leadership of Senate that the Senate and the House of Representatives also needed to work together on the budget so that the final copy would not need the traditional
conference committee.

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We are trying to see how to appeal to the House of Representatives such that we can work together along the same figures that would hasten the process of budget passage and ensure that there is no conference committee,” a senator at the meeting said.

It was also gathered that the Senate has resolved to cut down on purchase of computers and overheads generally to save some funds for the nation.

“The meeting resolved that all these overheads that have to do with purchase of computers and computer wares are cut down drastically. We don’t see how such expenses help our economy,” another senate committee chairman said.

It was gathered that the senate committee chairmen resolved to close all budget defence sittings by Friday next week, while any agency that fails to appear before then would have to be given the budget as deemed fit by the National Assembly.

It was also gathered that the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, at the meeting charged Senate Committee Chairmen to hasten legislative work on the 2017 budget proposal presently being
defended by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.

Saraki, who gave the directive during a closed door meeting with the chairmen of the committee and leadership of the Senate asked the lawmakers to look critically at the budget estimates of the various MDAs with a view to ensuring accountability.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on December 13, 2016 submitted a budget estimate of N7.298 trillion to the National Assembly for appropriation.

The budget proposal indicates an increase of 20.4 per cent over the 2016 figures which stood at N6-02 trillion increase over the total sum appropriated in the year 2016.

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