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Just a day to May 29 (Democracy day) the office of the President finally received a copy of the 2018 appropriation bill after months of vetting from the two hallow chambers. The Presidency has commenced the vetting of the details of the 2018 Budget bill passed as the National Assembly.
The lawmakers passed a budget of N9,120,334,988,225 for the current fiscal year, more than six months after it was presented to them by President Muhammadu Buhari. The President submitted a proposal of N8.6trillion to the National Assembly.
But it was learnt that there was one issue surrounding the budget which had not been resolved by the two arms of government. Although the Presidency reluctantly accepted the National Assembly’s proposal to increase the budget benchmark from $45 per barrel to $51, there was no consensus on what to do with the excess cash.
While the National Assembly wanted the $6 increase to go into expenditure, the Presidency proposed that it should be used to reduce budget deficit.
A top source said: “Following more demands by MDAs, the National Assembly approached the Presidency on the need to increase the benchmark. The increase was discussed by the Presidency with the principal officers of the legislature.
“But the Presidency was more disposed to reducing the budget deficit or to narrow the gap in deficit. The National Assembly sought for more funds for expenditure.
“The two arms agreed on increase in benchmark but there was no consensus on what to use it for.”
Another source in government said: “The Presidency will spend the next few days to study the budget details before assent by the President. We want to be sure that the estimates passed were mostly in line with the projections submitted and adjustments mutually agreed upon. “The decision on how to deal with the budget, especially the consideration of the details, will be taken on Monday.
“So, from Monday, we will know where we are going.”
When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Sen. Ita Enang, said: “The next step is that the bill will undergo standard presidential operational procedure.
“This is the procedure every bill undergoes before assent by President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The National Assembly passed a budget of N9,120,334,988,225 for the 2018 fiscal year.
This is coming more than six months after President Muhammadu Buhari presented the budget at a joint session of the National Assembly on November 7, 2017.
The budget has the objective of delivering on three-year (2018-2020) Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
The Appropriation Bill contained the estimates of revenue and expenditure totaling N8,612,236,953,214 made up of; Statutory Transfers N456,458,654,074;Debt Service N2,233,835,365, 699; Recurrent (Non-Debt) N3,494,277,820,219 and Contribution to Development Fund for Capital Expenditure N2,427,665,113,222.
Highlights of the budget as passed by the Senate included Aggregate expenditure N 9,120,334,988,225; Statutory Transfers N530,427,363,624;Debt Service 2,203,835,365,699; Recurrent Expenditure 3,512,677,902,077; Capital Expenditure 2,873,400,351,825 VI. Fiscal Deficit 1,954,464,993,775; Deficit to GDP 1.73%.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje said the legislature considered special intervention as a result of increase in oil price to adjust the budget benchmark.
He said: “After close consultation with the Executive, the increase in oil price benchmark was applied in the following critical sectors of the economy: (I)Reduction of deficit N50.88b; (ii)Security N46.72b; (iii)Health N57.15b; (iv)Power, Works and Housing N106.50b; (v) Education: particularly for the infrastructure for the 12 newly established Universities and meal subsidy in Unity schools N15.70b; (vi)Judiciary N10.00b; and (vii) NDDC N44.20b.”
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