The Senate on Tuesday passed the 2018 budget estimates through the Second Reading after an exhaustive debate on the general principles of the budget estimates.
The lawmakers, who did most of the debate up to Thursday last week voted to pass the appropriation bill through the second reading on Tuesday.
Also on Tuesday, the lawmakers stopped the Federal Government from further spending from the Excess Crude Account.
The Excess Crude Account was created under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to retain funds collected by the government in excess of budget benchmark.
The lawmakers said that the law was explicit on how funds accruing to the government should be spent but that the executive arm deliberately refuses to revert to the National Assembly to get approval before spending the funds.
The decision was taken as part of the passage of the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper(FSP), which was passed on Tuesday.
The Senate adopted the recommendations of its Joint Committee on Finance and Appropriation which indicated that the parametres for 2018 budget should include 2.3 million barrels per day for oil; $47 per barrel as benchmark price for 2018 and N305 to a dollar as official exchange rate. The lawmakers approved the recommendations.
The senate also approved the projected N5.279 trillion for non-oil revenue in 2018 as well as N1.699 trillion for new borrowing for 2018 fiscal year. The Senators equally approved 3.5 per cent growth rate for the fiscal year.
Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn N’Allah, who raised the suggestion to stop the the spending of Excess Crude Account, said that the move to stop the “reckless spending” of non-budgeted funds by the Executive arm, was to ensure that the rule of law is followed.
He said: “I am sorry to use this phrase reckless spending. That is what the Executive has been involved in. Every year, it spends excess funds realised from sale of crude oil without any approval from the National Assembly.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) opened an account called Excess Crude Account. All the extra monies realised from sale of oil are paid into this account. This is despite the fact that the law states that such monies should be paid into the Federation Account.
“Going forward, I recommend that we insert in the 2018 budget, a clause to stop the Executive from spending excess funds realised from sale of oil without approval by the National Assembly.”
The Senators also passed the 2018 Appropriation bill has scaled second reading in the Senate.
The N8.612 trillion budget proposal was submitted to the lawmakers in a joint session on November 7.
The lawmakers adjourned sittings for two weeks to enable committees work on the budget while further considerations of the budget would resume on December 19.