SARAKIThe National Assembly on Tuesday unanimously approved a N574.5bn supplementary budget requested by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The supplementary budget was approved weeks after it was presented to the legislators following a closed-door session where grey areas on the bill were thrashed out.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki said the supplementary budget was passed to address the suffering of Nigerians due to the current fuel scarcity across the country.

President Buhari had requested the approval of the National Assembly for a supplementary budget of N465.6bn but it was jerked up following an additional request of N108bn subsidy payment.

Chairman of Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje explained that in the course of interaction with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Jamila Shu’ara, the issue of an additional N108bn fuel subsidy fund came up.

“It was in exercise of our power to either reduce the budget or increase it, that we added N108bn for the fuel subsidy for the month of October, November and December, this year which was not captured in the submission made by President Buhari, “ he said.

The chairman, appropriation committee of the House, Rep Abdulmunin Jibrin also collaborated with the Senate’s reason for the increase of the budget.

Jibrin, while giving account of the joint committees’ work, said “as indicated in the amendment to the 2015 Fiscal Framework, the Supplementary Budget will be funded through borrowing.”

However, contributing to the debate, the Senate leader, Ali Ndume said they were left with no option than to pass the budget.

A breakdown of the approved supplementary budget showed that petroleum subsidy payment would now gulp N522.2bn , Operation Zaman Lafiya in the northeast, N29.9 billion, Nigerian Army, N17.4 billion, outstanding severance gratuity and allowances of out-gone and incoming legislators and their aides, N10.6billion, Nigerian Air Force, N8.1 billion and Victims Support Fund, N5 billion.

Others are Nigerian Army outstanding balance from 2015 second quarter, N4.3 billion; margin for increases in costs/recurrent adjustment, N2 billion, All African Games Qualification for Rio 2016 Olympics Games, N1.5 billion, salary for recruitment into the various cadres of the Nigerian military, N3.1 billion.

Meanwhile, the Senate minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio has demanded for removal of the controversial petroleum subsidy. “In the spirit of the change, there should be no subsidy so that the demand and supply will determine the market,” the former Akwa Ibom governor declared.

By Olisemeka Obeche

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