President Muhammadu Buhari
It is imperative to note that It the budge signing has a very significant accelerator effect on the financial plans of other tiers of government, and even more importantly, the private sector, which mostly operates on a January-December financial year.
Notwithstanding the delay this year, I am determined to continue to work with the National Assembly towards improving the budgeting process and restoring our country to the January-December fiscal cycle.
The bill was slated to be signed today, but I submitted the 2018 Budget proposals to the National Assembly on 7th November 2017, I had hoped that the usual legislative review process would be quick, so as to move Nigeria towards a predictable January-December financial year. The importance of this predictability cannot be overemphasized.
As I mentioned during the presentation of the 2018 Appropriation Bill, we intend to use the 2018 Budget to consolidate the achievements of previous budgets and deliver on Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020.
The lawmakers increased the proposal by N508 billion from N8.61 trillion to N9.12 trillion before passing it, they made cuts to some projects and introduced others which the President consider a setback to his plans.
Buhari expressed his worry, he said “an aggregate of N73 billion increase” the National Assembly made with regard to the provisions for statutory transfers. Most of these increases are for recurrent expenditure at a time we are trying to keep down the cost of governance’.
“An example of this increase is the budget of the National Assembly itself which has increased by 14.5 billion naira, from 125 billion naira to 139.5 billion naira without any discussion with the executive.
As it is, some of these projects relate to matters that are the responsibility of the States and Local Governments, and for which the Federal Government should therefore not be unduly burdened.
Furthermore, many of these new projects introduced by the National Assembly have been added to the budgets of most MDAs with no consideration for institutional capacity to execute them or the incremental recurrent expenditure that may be required.
Such examples of projects from which cuts were made are as follows:
1. The provisions for some nationally/regionally strategic infrastructure projects such as Counter-part funding for the Mambilla Power Plant, Second Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, the East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project were cut by an aggregate of 11.5 billion Naira.
2. Similarly, provisions for some ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the FCT, Abuja especially major arterial roads and the mass transit rail project, were cut by a total of 7.5 billion Naira.
3. The provision for Rehabilitation and Additional Security Measures for the United Nations Building by the FCT, Abuja was cut by 3.9 billion Naira from 4 billion Naira to 100 million Naira; this will make it impossible for the Federal Government of Nigeria to fulfill its commitment to the United Nations on this project.
4. The provisions for various Strategic Interventions in the health sector such as the upgrade of some tertiary health institutions, transport and storage of vaccines through the cold chain supply system, provision of anti-retroviral drugs for persons on treatment, establishment of chemotherapy centres and procurement of dialysis consumables were cut by an aggregate amount of 7.45 billion Naira.
5. The provision for security infrastructure in the 104 Unity Schools across the country was cut by 3 billion Naira at a time when securing our students against acts of terrorism ought to be a major concern of government.
6. The provision for the Federal Government’s National Housing Programme was cut by 8.7 billion Naira.
7. At a time when we are working with Labour to address compensation-related issues, a total of 5 billion Naira was cut from the provisions for Pension Redemption Fund and Public Service Wage Adjustment.
8. The provisions for Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and Special Economic Zones/Industrial Parks, which are key industrialization initiatives of this Administration, were cut by a total of 14.5 billion Naira.
9. The provision for Construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport was cut from 2 billion Naira to 500 million Naira which will further delay the completion of this critical project.
10. The Take-off Grant for the Maritime University in Delta State, a key strategic initiative of the Federal Government, was cut from 5 billion Naira to 3.4 billion Naira.
11. About seventy (70) new road projects have been inserted into the budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works, and Housing. In doing so, the National Assembly applied some of the additional funds expected from the upward review of the oil price benchmark to the Ministry’s vote. Regrettably, however, in order to make provision for some of the new roads, the amounts allocated to some strategic major roads have been cut by the National Assembly.