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200 Days After, PMB Receives Budget From NASS

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About 200 days after presenting the 2018 appropriation bill before a joint session of the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday received the budget estimates for the current fiscal year.

The senior special assistant to the president on national assembly matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, acknowledged the receipt of the budget passed by the National Assembly last week Wednesday.

Enang confirmed yesterday evening that he had received the budget from the Clerk of the National Assembly and was set to transmit same to President Buhari.

“I have received the 2018 appropriation bill for onward transmission to the president as soon as possible. I can confirm to you that the budget has left the National Assembly”, he said.

Asked about the destination of the document, he said, “Since the appropriation bill has been received, what is left is for it to be transmitted immediately to the president. When the budget leaves the National Assembly, it goes to the president. The president has received the budget”.

The Senate and the House of Representatives had on May 16 concurrently passed the 2018 budget estimates on oil price benchmark of $51 per barrel as against $45 per barrel projected in the N8.612 trillion presented to them by President Buhari last year, thus jerking it up to N9.120 trillion.

On Wednesday night, Senate President Bukola Saraki said that the National Assembly would transmit the 2018 budget to the presidency on Friday (yesterday).

Saraki said this in an interview with the State House correspondents after the breaking of fast between President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly at the presidential villa.

The Senate President said, “We are here on the invitation of Mr President to break fast with him. It is a good development and it shows we are working together.

“It is in the spirit of the good relationship that has existed. It has been traditional and shows that we have been working together whether you are from the legislative or the executive arm, it is one government with the purpose to serve the Nigerian people.

“And I think it is good for Nigerians to stay more and more together. So, things are good; things are working well. We will continue to work as one team.”

In passing the budget on May 16, the National Assembly said increases effected on the entire budget profile and the $6 increase made on oil price benchmark were done alongside with the executive arm.

The federal lawmakers gave highlights of the increased aggregate expenditure of N9.120 trillion to include N530, 421, 368,624 billion for statutory transfers as against N456, 458, 654, 074 earlier proposed and N2,203, 835, 365, 699 trillion for debt service as against N2,233, 835, 365, 699 earlier proposed.

Others are N3, 512, 677, 902, 077 trillion for recurrent expenditure as against N3,494,277, 820, 219 earlier proposed,  N2,873, 400, 351, 825 trillion for capital expenditure as against N2, 427, 665, 113, 222 earlier proposed  and N1, 954, 464, 993, 775 trillion for fiscal deficit.

However, in the area of parameters upon which the budget estimates are based, aside the $45 per barrel oil price benchmark increased to $51 per barrel, other parameters like 2.3million barrel oil production per day, N305 to a US dollar exchange rate, among others were retained.

Specifically, the Appropriation committee of both chambers, in their separate reports adopted and passed, explained that the N508billion added to the N8.612trillion presented to them in November last year arose from addition of N46.72billion to the security votes, N57.15billion to Health projection and N106.50billion to Power, Works and Housing estimates.

Others are N15.70billion added to budgetary votes for the education sector out of which N1billion each was earmarked for the 12 federal universities established by the Jonathan administration for critical infrastructure.

Also listed in the report were the N10billion added to the judiciary votes and N44.20billion added to the budgetary provisions of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Generally, under statutory transfers, the National Assembly has the highest vote of N139.5 billion, which is N14billion higher than N125billion earmarked for it in the 2017 budget.

Others are INEC, N45.5 billion, Universal Basic Education, N109.063 billion and Public Complaints Commission, N7.480 billion.

Sectorally, Ministry of Power, works and Housing has the highest vote of N682.309 billion, followed by the Ministry of Transportation that got N251.420 billion.

Others are N157.715 billion for Ministry ofD, N149.198 billion for Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, N147.200 billion for Ministry of water resources.

Payment for oil subsidy was not included in the budget, as both chambers called on the executive to forward a supplementary budget for that purpose.

In his remarks at the Senate session, the Senate President Saraki had said, “We must appreciate now that the crude oil price is close to $80 (per barrel). A lot of Nigerians are expecting to see our Excess Crude Account to be on the rise but if money is being used for subsidy at the end of the day, we will have it difficult to explain.

“That is why it is important that we capture this subsidy into the budget”.


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