The N20.5 trillion Appropriations Bill for 2023 has been passed for second reading by the House of Representatives.
After members discussed the bill’s overall philosophy, the bill scaled the second reading on Wednesday.
The House agreed to debate the bill for two days, according to Deputy Speaker Idris Wase (APC, Plateau), who oversaw the plenary. But he pleaded with the members to allow the discussion to wrap up in a single legislative day.
He said that although some members had indicated they would speak on Wednesday, the leadership had decided the debate should be finished in one day.
President Muhammadu Buhari presented the suggested estimates last Friday.
Several speakers on the budget expressed worry about the budget’s constraints, the rising debt profile, the recurring elements of the suggested estimates, and the fuel subsidy provision.
Toby Okechukwu, the deputy minority leader, criticized the current administration for lacking the political will to end the subsidy immediately.
He questioned why the government intended to continue funding subsidies through June 2023, leaving it as a challenge for the new administration.
“This government has no courage to undertake that enterprise, it has been political. It is not driven by patriotism. I think this House should be courageous, we should face our reality and ensure we retool the budget so that it can be effective for Nigerians,” he said.
Also speaking on the parameters, Leke Abejide (ADC, Kogi) said the projected daily oil production of 1.68 million barrels per day is too ambitious.
Mr Abejide also raised concern on the exchange rate of N435.37 to a dollar rate.
“Last year, we had N400.15 to a dollar, this year (it) is N435.37 to a dollar and when there’s too much gap between the exchange rate at the autonomous market (official rate)… then you are ruined for capital flight within,” he said.
When the bill was put to vote by Mr Wase, majority of the members voted in support.
It was subsequently referred to the Committee on Appropriations for further legislative action.