• Presents N8.6trn to NASS
• Defence gets lion share of N152bn
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi, Christian Ekpa, Umar Puma and Musa Adamu
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday unveiled the plans of the federal government to spend an estimated budget of N8.6trillion representing 16 percent increase, amounting to N1.7trillion on the N7.44trillion budgeted in the 2017 fiscal year.
He said the 2018 budget estimate has a capital proposal of N2.6trilion, representing 30.8 percent of the total budget size, as against the 2017 which has 30 per cent of the whole budget slated for capital projects.
The President pointed out that the economic team of the country anchored the budget on an expected deficit of N2trillion, representing N1.77 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country’s economy, but quickly added that the reduction was in line with the Economic Revival and Growth Plan to reduce budget deficit and borrowing.
Buhari said the deficit will be finance with N1.699trilion borrowing, half of which will be secured domestically while the remaining half would be secured internationally, adding that the deficit balance of N306billion would be financed through money realised from sale of non oil assets of the government by the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).
“The proposed 8.612 trillion Naira of 2018 Aggregate Expenditure comprises: Recurrent Costs of N3.494 trillion; Debt Service of N2.014 trillion; Statutory Transfers of about N456 billion; Sinking Fund of N220 billion (to retire maturing bond to Local Contractors); Capital Expenditure of N2.428 trillion (excluding the capital component of Statutory Transfers).
“N456.46 billion was provided in the 2018 Budget for Statutory Transfers. The 5 percent increase over last year’s provision is mainly due to increases in transfer to Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), which are related directly to the size of oil revenue”, the President said.
According to the President, the Defence Ministry, as usual got the loin share of the budget amounting to N152 billion naira, followed by agriculture and Universal Basic Education, which had N119billion and N118 billion respectively budget for it respectively.
The 2018 budget estimate is predicated on the key parameters and assumptions of the 2018 to 2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) of an oil benchmark price of US$45 per barrel; Oil production estimate of 2.3 million barrels per day; Exchange rate of N305/US$ for 2018; Real GDP growth of 3.5 percent; and Inflation Rate of 12.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the federally collectible revenue estimates in 2018 includes N11.983 trillion, which implies that the three tiers of Government will receive about 12 percent more revenues in 2018 than the 2017 estimate.
Also, of the amount, the sum of N6.387 trillion is expected to be realised from oil and gas sources, while a total receipts from the non-oil sector are projected at 5.597 trillion Naira.
Addressing the joint session of the National Assembly, President Buhari assured the lawmakers that their constituency project of N100 billion is intact in the budget, adding that another N500 billion has been slated for Social Intervention Programmes to alleviate poverty across the country, even as he solicited for collaboration with the parliament rather than conflict.
He further urged the Niger Delta Avengers not to resume hostilities in the oil region saying the achievements recorded so far in the economy were sequel to the relative peace in the region. He enjoined them to rather than intimidate the government and embarking on violence, they should explore the dialogue option.
Earlier in his welcome speech, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said the extent to which the government can implement the 2018 budget is largely dependent on how far the executive is willing to corporate with the national assembly, even as he urged the executive to be ready to work closely with the lawmakers.
Saraki threatened that the Senate, and the National Assembly in general, will sanction those parastatals and agencies that failed to submit their budget along with the 2018 budget as presented by the President.
According to him, “the budgets of parastatals and agencies are meant to be submitted with this budget presentation, as stipulated by the constitution. We must work to ensure that these are passed by the end of the year, and sanction those parastatals and agencies that fail to submit their budget along with the 2018 budget, and deny access to capital expenditure unless budget is passed.
In his closing remarks, the Speaker of the House of Representative, Yakubu Dogara, despite figure and statistics to show that the country is out of recession, many Nigerian families are still suffering.
“Although recession has technically ended, most Nigerian families are still struggling. As a Government, we must do all within our powers to hasten their long night of panic and fear into a glorious morning. We must never allow this nation to slide into recession, not now, not ever again,” he said.