The National Assembly on Wednesday passed the 2018 Appropriations Bill after more than six months it was presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari presented a N8.612 trillion budget proposal for 2018 fiscal year before the joint session of the National Assembly on November 7, 2017.
Buhari, who announced the 2018 budget as “Budget of Consolidation” said the projected expenditure is expected to consolidate on the achievements of previous budgets, and deliver on Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) for 2018 – 2020.
The budget was delayed for 190 days from the day it was presented before passage, as attempts to pass the budget failed twice making it the most delayed budget in nineteen years.
The Senate attributed the delay to failure of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to submit details of the budget proposals and refusal to avail themselves before the standing committees to defend their budgets.
Also, Senate President Bukola Saraki had on April 12, mandated the Committee on Appropriations to tidy up reports on the budget before April 13.
The lawmakers, in an order paper presented at the Senate during the plenary on Tuesday, raised the figure of the budget earlier presented by President Buhari by N508 billion to N9,120,334,988,225.
The National Assembly increased the amount earlier proposed for Statutory Transfer by N74 billion; development fund for Capital Expenditure by N445 billion; Recurrent (non debt) Expenditure by N18 billion; the amount for Debt Servicing was raised by N189 billion while Sinking Fund for maturing loans was reduced by N21 billion.
The Appropriations Committee of both chambers of the Assembly in separate plenary sessions presented the harmonised reports of Joint Senate and House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations for consideration and subsequently passed the Bill with the same figure.
The budget was passed at the Senate and the House of Representatives following the presentation and consideration of its report on the floor of both chambers by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje, and Mustapha Dawaki, Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations.
According to Senator Goje, the Committee of Appropriations “with full consultations of the Executive” reviewed the assumptions for the budget as follow: Oil price benchmark was put at $51 per barrel as against $45 per barrel proposed by the Executive; crude oil production, 2.3 million barrels per day; exchange rate was pegged at N305/USD.
Goje, while presenting the report, confirmed the increment in the budget and attributed the budget increase to the $6 per barrel increase in the benchmark for oil price which was done by the National Assembly Appropriations Committee, he further stated that the money was applied to some “critical areas” including Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.
“For the first time, the National Assembly with consultation with the Executive implement the National Health Act which provides at least 1% of the amount in the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) should be devoted to health sevices.
“The National Assembly with consultation of the Executive have set aside N57.15 billion for the implementation of this Health Act,” he said.
According to the report, N42.72 billion will be spent on security, N106.50 billion for the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, N15.7 billion is earmarked for Education, N10 billion for Judiciary while N44.20 billion for Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
He added the the increment would allow for a N50.88 billion deficit reduction.
In his remark, Senator Lane Tejuoso, expressed delight over the consideration of the Senate to implement the National Health Act.
“History is being made in the health sector of Nigeria. We all recall in the Health Act, 2014 where it was stated that at least 1% CAN will be allocated to Primary Health Care. Millions of Nigerians will enjoy free health services across the country,” he said.
The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, called for the implementation of the budget as that is the only way Nigerians could feel the impact of the passage.
“I want to take this opportunity to say, the budget is good, but the budget is just an estimate, it is the implemention of the budget is what will put food on the tables of Nigerians,” he said
Highlights of 2018 budget as passed by the National Assembly are: a total sum of N9,120,334,988,225 of which N530,421,368,624 was approved for Statutory Transfers as against N456,458,654,074 proposed by the Executive.
N2,203,835,365,699 for Debt Servicing, N190 billion for Sinking Fund for maturing loans; N3,512,677,902,077 for Recurrent (non debt) Expenditure while N2,873,400,351,825 as contributiom to the development fund for Capital Expenditure as against N2,427,665,113,222 earlier proposed.
The budget will have a Fiscal Deficit of N1,954,464,993,775 and a Deficit-to-GDP is put at -1.73 per cent.
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