President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, signed the 9.12 trillion 2018 budget passed by the National Assembly, in May.
Buhari had in November 2017, presented a budget proposal of N8.6 trillion, to a joint session of the National Assembly (NASS) but the lawmakers in their own wisdom increased the budget by an additional N500 billion.
The President said he signed the budget in the interests of the nation.
The signing ceremony which was done in one of the presidential chambers was witnessed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, ministers and top presidential aides.
In an address, at the signing ceremony, witnessed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Buhari lamented the deliberate alteration of the budget by the lawmakers stressing that they went beyond their Constitutional duties by inserting projects in the budget amounting to N578 billion for 6,403 projects of their own as well as deliberately cutting down the costs of critical projects dear to the electorate and the executive by N347 billion representing 4,700 projects.
He expressed grave concerns over the increase in the budget from N8.6 trillion to N9.12 trillion noting that lawmakers disregarded “the logic behind the Constitutional direction that budgets should be proposed by the Executive” emphasizing that “it is the Executive that knows and defines its policies and projects. Unfortunately, that has not been given much regard in what has been sent to me”.
Buhari said “Notwithstanding the above stated observations, I have decided to sign the 2018 Budget in order not to further slowdown the pace of recovery of our economy, which has doubtlessly been affected by the delay in passing the budget”.
He however vowed, “To seek to remedy some of the most critical of these issues through a supplementary and/or amendment budget which I hope the National Assembly will be able to expeditiously consider”.
The president pledged to work extra hard to achieve the laudable objectives of the 2018 Budget.
According to him “we will work very hard to generate the revenues required to finance our projects and programmes. The positive global oil market outlook, as well as continuing improvement in non-oil revenues, makes us optimistic about our ability to finance the budget”.
“However, being a deficit budget, the Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly. I crave the indulgence of the National Assembly for a speedy consideration and approval of the Plan,” he further stated.
President Buhari said the Federal Government “intends 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”.
He lamented the delay in the passage of the budget saying “When 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”.
The President said “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”.
Despite the blames, the president still went ahead to thank the President of the Senate Bukola Saraki, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as all Senators and House of Representatives members for passing the 2018 Appropriation Bill, after seven months.
Meanwhile, Saraki, Dogara and other principal officers of the National Assembly were absent at the signing ceremony.
Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of representatives Yakubu Dogara, other key principal officers of the National Assembly were absent at the signing ceremony.
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