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COVID-19: N25.6bn to be slashed from National Assembly budget

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan

The National Assembly’s 2020 budget will be reviewed downwards by N25.6 billion as the federal government adopts cost-cutting measures resulting from the fall in crude oil price in the world market caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The amount is 20 per cent of the N128 billion approved for the National Assembly for this fiscal year.

The federal government had reduced its N10.3tr budget to N8tr in the face of the effects of the coronavirus on the world economy which saw crude oil price going down far below the $52 budget benchmark.

Following the development, it was agreed that the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature budgets would be slashed by 20% across board to reflect the present realities.

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Sources in the National Assembly disclosed that the lawmakers are waiting for the executive to submit the reviewed budget for consideration and passage.

With the reduction in its budget, the National Assembly is said to be bracing up to shelve some of the non-priority spendings.

The House Chief Whip, Muhammad Tahir Monguno (APC, Borno), confirmed to our reporter on phone that the National Assembly’s budget would be slashed by 20 per cent.

“It was decided that the budget would be slashed by 20 per cent across board. No discrimination between the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature. We now have to decide from which areas we will reduce our proposals.

“The reviewed budget will now be presented for passage. We are ready to receive it from the executive even in this lockdown. We are waiting; if they bring it, we will reconvene.

“There is a very big problem, our economy is going down, there is need for everybody to make a sacrifice. We have to forgo many things proposed in our budget,” he said.

Monguno said the three arms of government would look at priority areas in their budgets and effect the necessary adjustments.

He added that the National Assembly would do a thorough job to consider things that are of utmost importance for the nation and readjust the budget.

“I know that the minister of finance said the purchase of computers, office furniture and purchase of vehicles and some other line items would be removed from the budget of the executive,” he added.

On the proposed N37 billion renovation, the House Chief Whip said it would be a misplaced priority if the proposal was retained in the budget at this time.

“For me, even if it is brought back, I will call for its suspension. The money should be taken and used elsewhere to benefit Nigerians. We should manage what we will be able to get until things get better.

“It will be very insensitive for anybody to use N37 billion for renovation in the present circumstance. It is very irresponsible to use even N10 billion to renovate the National Assembly. The money should be used where it will benefit all Nigerians,” he said.

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