There are strong indications that the National Assembly (NASS) may pass the 2024 Appropriation Bill of N27.5 trillion on December 19, 2023.
At the Senate yesterday, the bill was given speedy consideration as its submission to the legislature by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Wednesday was considered the first reading.
Consequently, the lawmakers immediately began the debate for the commencement of the second reading.
The House of Representatives also yesterday debated on the general principles of the budget.
Tinubu has on Wednesday, laid the N27.5 trillion budget for the 2024 financial year christened, "Budget of Renewed Hope."
But Senate leader Bamidele Opeyemi, who spoke yesterday on the general principles of the bill, declared that it was deemed to have been read the first time by virtue of its being laid before the joint session of the National Assembly on November 29, 2023.
He said the bill seeks to authorise and issue out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation the total sum of N27.5 trillion for the year ending December 31, 2024.
Bamidele listed the major highlights of the budget to include oil price benchmark of $77.96 per barrel and oil production estimate of 1.78 million barrels per day of condensates of 300,000 to 400,000 barrels per day and exchange rate of N750 to dollar.
He said based on the fiscal assumptions and parameters, total federally-collectible revenue was estimated at N16.87 trillion in 2024, while total federally distributable revenue was estimated at N11.09 trillion in 2024.
Opeyemi said total revenue available to fund the 2024 federal budget was estimated at N9.73 trillion.
This, he said, includes the revenues of 63 government-owned enterprises, while oil revenue was projected at N1.92 trillion, non-oil taxes estimated at N2.43 trillion.
He said the federal government's independent revenues were projected to be N2.21 trillion.
Opeyemi said other revenues were N762 billion while the retained revenues of the GOEs amounted to N2.42 trillion.
He said from the total N27.5 trillion proposed for 2024, statutory transfers were N744.11 billion while non-debt recurrent cost was N10.26 trillion and personnel costs N4.99 trillion.
The Senate leader said pensions, gratuities and retirees' benefits was projected as N854.8 billion while overheads was N1.11 trillion.
He said capital-expenditure of N8.7 trillion, including the capital component of statutory transfers ,debt service of N8.25 trillion and sinking fund of N243.73 billion was proposed to retire certain maturing bonds.
Bamidele said from the scenario, recurrent expenditure was still too high constituting over 43 per cent of the total budget outlay, adding that it was expected that the total fiscal operations of the Federal Government would result in a deficit of N9.8 trillion, representing 3.88 percent of estimated GDP.
This, he said, was above the three per cent threshold set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.
He said to finance the deficit was to engage in new borrowings totaling N7.83 trillion and N294.49 billion from privatization proceeds.
He said the deficit would also be financed from N1.06 trillion drawn from bilateral, multilateral loans secured for specific development projects programmes.
He, however, said there was a growing concern over continued borrowing, but the administration resorted to it to finance fiscal gaps.
"But let me state here that the debt level of the Federal Government is still within sustainable limits.
"Very importantly, these loans are used to finance critical development projects and programmes aimed at improving our economic environment and ensuring effective delivery of public services to our people."
He urged the lawmakers to approve the second reading of the Appropriation Bill, 2024 for consideration by the appropriation committee and its sub committees.
Contributing, Senator Osita Ngwu (PDP-Enugu) said President Bola Tinubu has fulfilled his campaign promises with actions by inputting issues of food security, poverty alleviation in the budget estimates.
He said there was a need to ensure a review of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to ensure the continuous ramp up of oil production to fund the deficit in the budget.
Senators, who made a contribution in the day one of the debate on the 2024 appropriation bill commended the President for the budget, saying it was indeed a budget of renewed hope.
Also, members of the House of Representatives began debate on the general principles of the 2024 Appropriation (Budget) Bill, stating that the spending plan will address the needs of Nigerians.
Leading debate on the budget (bill), the House Leader, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere said the budget was designed to address some economic challenges; defence and security.
Ihonvbere while expressing satisfaction that a major part of the budget will be allocated to security, said he has been unable to visit his constituency due to the prevailing insecurity
He stressed that the proposed amount for security "is not an accident," saying "once security is properly tackled the economy will grow."
Contributing to the debate, Hon. Ahmed Jaha from Borno state said by providing a substantial amount of money or a reasonable figure for capital projects shows that "the government is serious about embarking on a series of developmental projects."
Jaha lauded the federal government's "intention" to diversify the economy into "unexploited opportunities and resources", saying it will tackle unemployment.
Also, the House Chief Whip, Hon. Bello Kumo said budget consideration should be given the "fastest approach" to enable the executive begins implementation.
In his contribution, Hon. Sada Soli from Katsina State said the budget was unique as the President sought collaboration with states.
He commended Tinubu for his commitment to addressing revenue leakages, noting that without addressing these gaps, the government's efforts may not yield the desired results.
On his part, Hon. Yusuf Gagdi from Plateau, said the budget is a reflection of President Tinubu campaign promises, seeking to practically tackle the nation's challenges.