Preparatory to the presentation of the 2024 budget by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu tomorrow, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the sum of N27.5 trillion for the 2024 Appropriation Bill.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu, disclosed this to State House correspondents yesterday after the federal executive council meeting presided over by the president at the presidential villa.
According to him, the bill outlines an aggregate expenditure of N27.5 trillion, marking a significant increase of over N1.5 trillion compared to earlier estimates using the previous reference prices.
He said further details of the budget would be released when the president presents the budget to the National Assembly, just as disclosed that the MTEF which has been passed by the National Assembly was further reviewed.
Bagudu said one of the significant amendments involves a shift in the exchange rate from N700 to $1 to a new rate of N750 to $1.
Bagudu also hinted that the benchmark crude oil price has been adjusted to $77.96, marking a $4 increase from the initial approval at $73.96.
The minister said these adjustments are geared toward bolstering government revenue and supporting priority sectors, including health, Education, infrastructure, security and other key developmental areas.
He noted that with a forecast revenue of N18.32 trillion, surpassing 2023 revenues, the budget demonstrates a strategic approach to financial management
He stated: “Today, among other issues, the Federal Executive Council considered the 2024 Appropriation Bill. You may recall that the Medium Term Expenditure Framework was earlier approved and transmitted to the National Assembly, which the assembly graciously approved and that approved Medium Term Expenditure has the exchange rate of N700 to $1 and equally, the benchmark crude oil price at $73.96 cent.
“However, in Mr. President’s determination to find more money to fund our priorities, today the Federal Executive Council further revised the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Policy Framework and two of the important decisions were to use an exchange rate of N750 to $1 and also a benchmark crude oil reference price of $77.96, meaning $4 more than the earlier approval.
“This will significantly increase government revenue that Mr. President intends to use in further supporting the ministries, departments and agencies in the execution of the eight priority areas, particularly Health, Education, infrastructure, security and other developmental areas.
“Equally, the Federal Executive Council approved the 2024 Appropriation Bill and the presentation of such to the National Assembly by His Excellency, Mr. President.
“The bill has an aggregate expenditure of N27,500,000,000,000, which is an increase of over N1.5 trillion from the previously estimated, using the old reference prices. The forecast revenue is now N18.32 trillion, which is higher than the 2023 revenues, including that provided in the two supplementary budgets.
“Equally and commendably, the deficit is lower than that of 2023. Details of the Renewed Hope Budget will be announced by Mr. President when he makes the presentation to the National Assembly”.
The indication that Tinubu will present the budget came from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abbas Tajudeen.
He said yesterday that the president will present the spending plan for next year in a few days.
While the Speaker was not specific on the date just as the Chief of Staff to the President, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who also said the federal government budget will be presented in “matter of days, LEADERSHIP gathered that the annual ritual is billed for Wednesday.
Also, a yet to be published notice from the National Assembly management requesting select television stations to submit a list of their “Outside Broadcast (OB) Van crew for accreditation” also attested to this.
The notice also advised staff not involved in the budget presentation and workers of government as well as private entities to stay off the National Assembly Complex on Wednesday, indicating that “only those duly accredited will access the complex as villa security will take over the premises.”
Abbas who disclosed the closeness of the budget presentation at a one-day capacity building retreat for chairmen and deputy chairman of House standing committees in Abuja on Monday, also said the Green Chamber will convene a town hall meeting with stakeholders on the 2024 budget.
He asked chairmen and deputy chairmen of standing committees of the House to consider and finalise the budget within two weeks without compromising the integrity of the process by engaging in haphazard and superficial consideration.
He said, “As we expect to receive the 2024 Appropriation Bill in a few days, I wish to state that the House will convene a Budget Town Hall Meeting to enable citizens to make inputs into the 2024 Appropriation.
“It is the first time such an engagement is planned at the national level. I invite our partners to work with us in preparing for a vigorous and all-inclusive budget process.
“To ensure speedy passage of the 2024 budget, I charge all committees to double their efforts and finalise all considerations in two weeks.
“However, this does not imply haphazard and superficial consideration of the budget. Rather, it is a challenge to you to deploy all resources and make the needed sacrifices to ensure we pass the budget in good time for the good of all Nigerians.”
Abbas reminded the committees’ chairmen and their deputies that the legislature was central to the nation’s democracy, emphasising that a strong House was integral to ensuring that governance is conducted in an open, accountable, and representative manner.
While lamenting the challenges that impede committees and legislature overall effectiveness such as the high turnover rate, Abbas said, “The 10th House of Representatives has recorded the highest attrition rate since the return to democracy in 1999. As a result, critical knowledge and expertise have been lost in the process.
“Other factors that limit the effectiveness of our Committees include insufficient resources, particularly inadequate funding, staffing, and resources, all of which limit their ability to conduct thorough analysis and research. Despite the widely held belief, the House and its Committees are grossly underfunded, making it nearly impossible for them to function optimally.’
He also noted that the theme of the retreat: ‘Improving Legislative Performance through Effective Committee Management’, was deliberately chosen to provide a comprehensive understanding of the tasks ahead, especially for many of those who were taking up these legislative responsibilities for the first time.
He stated: “The legislature is central to our democracy, and a strong House is integral to ensuring that governance is conducted in an open, accountable, and representative manner.
“As chairmen and deputy chairmen of various committees, we must ensure that the House delivers on its Legislative Agenda. All committees should study the relevant sections of the Agenda and incorporate them into their work plans. You are encouraged to rely on the Agenda and generate bills, motions and other legislative interventions.”
In his remarks, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Benjamin Kalu said committees of the House are the engines of legislative oversight, playing a pivotal role in scrutinising government policies, investigating public misconduct, and ensuring that the executive branch remains accountable to the people.
In his goodwill message, the Chief of Staff to the President, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, also said the federal government budget would be presented to the National Assembly “in a matter of days.”
The former Speaker of the House urged heads and members of standing committees to synergise while scrutinising the budgetary proposals during defence sessions.
Gbajabiamila also noted that committees were key to the legislative process, urging the chairmen and their deputies to work harmoniously.
He said, “The legislature is the engine room of a democratic government, and you, the chairmen and deputies, are the gears that keep that engine running. It is a high honour and a profound responsibility.
“More than at any other time in the nation’s history, all of us who hold office in government must put our best foot forward every day so that by our joint endeavour, we can advance the cause of our nation.”