The Senate has passed for second reading the 2022 Appropriation Bill.
The bill was passed for second reading after over one hour of debate on its general principles on Wednesday.
Recall that last Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari presented the N16.39 trillion budget proposal for the 2022 fiscal year to the National Assembly.
The budget has a deficit of N6.26 trillion, representing 3.39 per cent of estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
However, many of the senators, who contributed to the debate, expressed concerns over the increasing fiscal deficit and the government’s penchant for borrowing to fund capital projects.
While some defended the borrowings, which the executive said were to build the much-needed infrastructure, others advocated Public-Private Partnership (PPP) as an alternative to loans.
Senator Betty Apiafy (PDP, Rivers) dismissed the claims that the country was not overborrowing.
She stated that Nigeria’s debt to revenue ratio at over 70 per cent is among the highest in Africa.
Ahmad Lawan the Senate President, defended the federal government’s borrowings but said the loans must be judiciously deployed.
He said, “Borrowing is not bad, but we need to ensure that what we borrow is judiciously deployed.”
Lawan, however, asked the National Assembly committees to step up their oversight of the executive and make sure that government resources were prudently used.
The bill, after scaling the second reading, was referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriations to report back in four weeks.
Meanwhile, the Senate has suspended plenary till November 9 2021 to enable its committees to work on the appropriation bill.