- As he signed the Appropriation Law yesterday
By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the N10. 594 trillion 2020 budget into law just as he ordered the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and all Federal MDAs to ensure full implementation of the Appropriation law.
The President in his address ahead of his endorsement of the budget told the lawmakers led by the Chairman of the National Assembly and his Deputy, Senate President Sen. Ahmed Lawan and Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila respectively, that he would soon present the 2020-2022 borrowing plan to the parliament.
The President, who commended the lawmakers for the timely consideration and passage of the Appropriation law assured that the government would source the resources required for full implementation of the budget.
He said “With today’s global oil market outlook and our strategic approach to revenue growth, we are optimistic that we will be able to finance the 2020 Budget.
“However, being a deficit budget, an appropriate 2020 – 2022 Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly, in due course,” the President said.
“Mr. Senate President, Right Honourable Speaker, for this submission, I will once again count on your usual cooperation and support by ensuring quick consideration and approval of the Plan.
“To optimize the desired impact, I have directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and all Federal MDAs to ensure effective implementation of the 2020 Budget,” the President said.
The President, who recalled that he laid the Appropriation Bill before the parliament on the 8th of October this year, commended the lawmakers for working for uncommon long hours in the interest of the people and national economy.
He said “This patriotic zeal adopted by the Ninth National Assembly has restored our budget cycle to a predictable January to December fiscal year.
“Furthermore, in the twenty years since the return to civilian democracy, this will be just the fourth time that the Federal Budget was passed before the end of the previous year, and this is the earliest.
“The passage of the Finance Bill, which I am told will be done in the coming days, will also be a landmark achievement worthy of recognition, being the first time, this has been done in the last twenty years.
“We look forward to receiving this Bill, shortly, for Presidential Assent. Once passed into law, the Finance Bill will support the funding and implementation of the 2020 Budget. We shall sustain this tradition by ensuring that subsequent budgets are also accompanied by a Finance Bill.
“For these achievements, I must therefore congratulate and thank the Distinguished Senate President, the Right Honourable Speaker and indeed, all members of the Federal Legislature for their commitment and support.
“I equally thank the Ninth National Assembly for supporting important legislations such as the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Amendment Act and the 2019 Finance Bill. These laws are vital to the successful implementation of the 2020 Budget.
“I am aware of the regular high-level discussions that took place, between senior officials of the Executive and the Legislature during this period. I commend this renewed partnership, the mutual understanding as well as collaboration between these two arms of government.
“Now, we are well positioned to effectively implement the budget and deliver our promises to Nigerians. Businesses will also benefit as they are now in a position to plan more effectively.
“We have to sustain this harmonious working relationship. I expect that, going forward, this will be the norm.
“I have directed that efforts be made to ensure the presentation of the 2021 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly in September 2020. I am confident that all Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies will cooperate with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to keep to this timeline.”
The President equally assured that his administration would work with the Ninth Assembly to give effect to the constitutional, legislative and other actions that may be necessary to address the various challenges currently associated with the federal budgeting process, including the enactment of an Organic Budget Bill.
While noting that the lawmakers jerked up his initial proposal by N263.95 billion, the President hinted that he would revert to the parliament with requests for virement and other relevant amendments.
He added that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will make a public presentation of the details of the approved budget.
Fielding questions from newsmen after the signing ceremony, the Senate President said strategies for revenue generation to fund the budget have been put in place with the expected passage of Finance Bill currently in the parliament.
He said “We have also passed an amendment to the Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) that will also provide more revenues. We all know that the Production Sharing Contract was never available to fund our budget properly. In fact, in 2019, N350 billion was earmarked but we couldn’t get anything. Next year by the grace of God because of the amendment, we are going to get close to $2 billion and that is going to be a marked difference from what it used to be.”
The Speaker in his part gave the assurance that the legislature and the executive would continue to work harmoniously for years to come.