By Andrew Oota
Barely 24 hours after the presentation of the 2024 money bill by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Tuesday , Senate has began debate on the general principles of 2024 Appropriations Bill.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Bamidele, Michael Opeyemi (APC- Ekiti).
Opeyemi leading debate on general principles of the bill said the bill was deemed to have been read the first time by virtue of its being laid before Joint Session.
He said the bill seeks to authorize issue out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation total sum of 27.5trillon for the year ending 31st Dec .2024.
He listed major highlights of the budget to include oil price benchmark of 77.96 dollars per barrel and baily 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 750 naira 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 sixty three Government-Owned Enterprises, while oil revenue was projected at N1.92 trillion, non-oil taxes estimated at N2.43 trillion.
He said Federal Government independent revenues was projected to be N2.21 trillion .
Opeyemi said other revenues was N762 billion, while the retained revenues of the GOEs amount to N2.42 trillion.
He said from the total N27.5 trillion proposed for 2024, statutory transfers was N744.11bilion billion.while non-debt recurrent costs was N10.26 trillion and personnel Clcosts N4.99 trillion.
He said pensions, gratuities and retirees’ benefits was projected was 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.
Opeyemi said from the 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 deficit of N9.8 trillion,representing 3.88 per cent 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, Sen.Osita Ngwu (PDP-Enugu)said President Bola Tinubu has fulfilled his campaign promises with actions by inputting issues of food security, poverty allivation in the budget extimates.
He said there was need to ensure a review of Petroleum Industry Act(PIA) to ensure the continuous ramp up of oil production to fund the deficit in the budget.
senators, who made 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.
They called for full implementation of the budget by the executive when approved.