The federal government has released over NN4.779 trillion for capital spending from 2016, 2017 and 2018 annual national budgets.
The current administration increased budgetary allocations to capital expenditure – from 16.1 per cent in 2015 to 30.2 per cent in 2016, from 31.7 per cent in 2017 to 31.5 per cent in 2018, and 26 per cent in 2019.
Minister of budget and national planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said government embarked on the strategy to exit recession, reflate the economy, restore growth, invest in the people and build a globally competitive economy, with priority given to the key execution priorities of the government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
Udo Udoma made the remarks at his ‘End of Tenure’ press briefing in Abuja yesterday.
“We were also able to increase our capital releases. The Ministry of Finance was able to release, for capital spending, the sum of N1.2 trillion under the 2016 Budget, the sum of N1.58 trillion under the 2017 Budget and, as at 8th May, 2019, the sum of N1.55 trillion under the 2018 Budget,” he said.
The figure given by Senator Udoma, it was gathered, does not include statutory allocations to the Judicial and Legislative arms of government that was captured in the amount Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said had been released so far under capital funding.
Meanwhile, Senator Udoma stated that, as it stands, it is difficult for Nigeria to return to a January to December budget cycle.
According to him, to return to the January to December fiscal year is a very challenging assignment when the operation of the current budget only commenced in June or July.
In order to achieve a return to a January 1 commencement date for budgets, the minister said the budget must ideally be delivered to the National Assembly by September.
He said it is hard to have an idea of how the existing budget is likely to perform when it was passed at the middle of the year, given the procurement process. Nigeria’s federal budget starts running in June or July, there might have been little or no capital releases by September.
“The only way to return to a January to December fiscal year, under those circumstances, is for there to be agreement between the Executive and the National Assembly to produce a budget on the basis of significant assumptions.
“This will require a very close working relationship of trust and synergy between the two arms of government. Unfortunately, we were unable to achieve this in the last four years,” Udoma said, adding that the situation will help not only to be able to achieve a return to the January to December fiscal year, but to have a much smoother budget process.
The minister also disclosed that by March 2019, a total of 1,707,932 loans have been successfully disbursed under the Government Enterprise & Empowerment Programme (GEEP), with 1,374,192 of the loans given under the TraderMoni scheme, while 330,568 loans were for MarketMoni and 1,172 for FarmerMoni.
He added that over 9.5 million school children are currently being fed each day in 52,604 schools across 30 states under the federal government’s Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, which had had also provided direct jobs to 101,913 catering workers engaged under the scheme.
Listing other poverty alleviation measures, the minister said 297,973 poor Nigerians across 20 states had benefited from the N5,000 Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme and 3,517 community facilitators had been trained; 500,000 graduates are benefiting from the N-Power programme and are paid N30,000 monthly, while 20,000 non-graduates in the N-Build category are either currently in training or serving as interns
Udoma stated that the implementation of the ERGP resulted in the economy exiting recession in the second quarter of 2017 and returning subsequently to the path of growth with most economic indices showing positive momentum.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday released data which showed that the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 2.01 per cent in the first quarter of 2019.
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