Buhari accuses NASS of padding N8.9tr 2019 budget

  • Signs document, raises concerns on implementation

By Lawrence Olaoye

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law the 2019 Appropriation Bill into law, promising to further engage the next National Assembly for a review of the document.
The president said the adjustments made to his original bill submitted to the parliament would make the implementation of the budget difficult particularly in accordance with the provisions of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
He observed that the budget of N8.92 trillion passed by the National Assembly was N90 billion higher than the N8.83 trillion proposal he presented to the parliament on December 19, 2018.
According to him, National Assembly members reduced some of the proposals he made in the budget and simultaneously increased others, adding that the lawmakers also introduced fresh allocations into the
budget.
However, he said even though he had opted to sign the budget, he would yet engage the leadership of the ninth National Assembly to carry out.a review of some of the adjustments in the document when it resumes in June.
The President, who thanked members of the National Assembly for their efforts in getting the document passed, recalled that the 2019 budget was christened budget of continuity, with a view to moving the country forward and fostering the policy of inclusiveness, diversified and
sustainable growth.
He promised to ensure the improvement of the budget process with a view to speeding up budget consideration and consequently return the country to January to December budget cycle.
He said: “You will all recall that in December 2018, I presented our 2019 budget proposal with the theme ‘Budget of Continuity.’ Our goal was to use this budget to move the economy further on the path of inclusive, diversified and sustainable growth.
“Back then, I proposed a total expenditure of N8.83 trillion to the National Assembly for appropriation targeting strategic and impactful projects and initiatives.
However, the 2019 Budget I will be signing into law today provides for aggregate expenditures of N8.92 trillion. This is an increase of N90.33 billion over our submission.
“This increase reflects changes introduced by the National Assembly.
In some areas, expenses we proposed were reduced while in other areas they were increased. There were also certain areas where new additions were introduced into the budget. More details of the approved budget will be provided by the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning.
“Of course, some of these changes will adversely impact our programs making it difficult for us to achieve the objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
“Although I will be signing this bill, it is my intention to continue to engage the National Assembly to ensure we deliver on our promises.
I will therefore be engaging with the leadership of the ninth National Assembly, as soon as they emerge, to address some of our concerns with this Budget.
“We will also look at how to improve the budget process so that,
amongst other things, we can speed up budget consideration processes and return the country to the January to December fiscal year timetable.”
The president thanked the Minister of Budget and National Planning, the Minister of Finance, the Budget Office of the Federation, and all who put the budget together.
Before the president signed the budget, the Minister of budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, described the budget as a collective endeavour between the executive and the National Assembly.
He thanked the leadership of the National Assembly and the chairmen of the Appropriation and Finance Committees of both the Senate and the House of Representatives for their cooperation.
Udoma also thanked the Economic Management Team led by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo as well as ministers for their cooperation, saying producing the budget without them would have been impossible.
Udoma said: “Your Excellency, the budget was a collective endeavour between the executive and the National Assembly. I like to thank the leadership of the National Assembly, the Senate President, the House of Representatives Speaker for their cooperation and support.
“I also want to thank the members of Economic Management Team led by the vice-president and ministers. Without their support, we can’t produce the budget. I want to thank you Mr. President for assigning me this responsibility. I’m very very grateful. It is with this pleasure that I invite Mr. President to sign the 2019 budget.”
The 2019 budget is made up of N4.65 trillion recurrent expenditure, N2.94 trillion capital expenditure, N2.25 trillion for debt servicing and N502.58 billion statutory transfer.
Present at the signing event were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Senate President, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, Senate Chief Whip, Prof. Sola Adeyeye, Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, Senator Danjuma Goje, Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee and Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator John Owan Enoh, among others.
Others were Udoma, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Attoney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, the president’s liaison officers in the National Assembly, Senator Ita Enang (Senate) and Umar Ibrahim El-Yakub (House of Representatives).

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