Nigeria parliament passes 2008 budget

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Nigeria’s bicameral National Assembly (parliament) has finally passed the 2008 Appropriation Bill, about three months after President Umaru Yar’Adua presented it to a joint session of the assembly.While the upper Senate raised the 2.4 trillion naira budget presented by the President to 2.89 trillion naira at its session Tuesday, the lower House of Representatives increased it to 2.94 trillion naira (117 naira=US$1). After passing the budget at separate fora, both houses then set up panels to harmonise the figures before the agreed budget is presented to President Yar’Adua for signing. A key change in the budget parametre is the increase, from US$53.8 to US$59, the crude oil benchmark by the Senate. In recurrent spending, the Ministry of Interior is allocated the largest chunk at 252.6 billion naira, followed by Education (168.64 billion naira); Defence (158.05 billion naira) and Health (89.45 billion naira) in that order. For capital expenditure, the Transport sector leads with 199.5 billion naira, followed by the Energy sector (126.4 billion naira). The delay in passing the budget, the first by the Yar’Adua administration since its assumption of office 29 May 2007, has been criticised by individuals and groups, including the Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

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