The National Assembly on Tuesday finally passed a total budget of N8.961 trillion for the 2019 Fiscal year.
Both chambers of the parliament passed the 2019 budget with increment of N90 billion to the N8.83 trillion presented by the Executive. Key assumptions of the 2019 Appropriation Bill shows that the Aggregate Expenditure is N8,906,964,099,373, Statutory Transfers is N502,058,892,965, Fiscal Deficit- N1,908,475,049,742, Special Intervention – N500,000,000,000, Recurrent Expenditure- N4,055,840,383,684, Capital Expenditure -N2,094,950,709,632 and Deficit to GDP 1.37%.
Responsible for the N90bn increase in the budget include the N10bn allotted to humanitarian intervention in Zamfara State. The N10 billion budgeted for Zamfara State to take care of insecurity ravaging the state increased the budget from N8,906,964,099,373 to N8,916,964,099,373. The budget was also increased to take care of the N30,000 minimum wage recently assented to be President Buhari. The parliament approved N160, 000, 000, 000 for public service wage adjustment for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), including arrears of promotion and salary increases and payment of severance benefits. Presenting the report of the Senate Committee on Appropriation on the 2019 Appropriation Bill, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Danjuma Goje, explained why the budget was increased by N90, 327,520,458.
Goje explained that “there is a slight increase in the budget deficit. This is as a result of the provision for the severance benefits of the outgoing legislators and legislative aides, the induction/orientation and inauguration of new legislators all of which occur once in four years, but were inadvertently not captured in the 2019 budget proposal. “There was also the need to provide more funds for the security and intelligence agencies to deal with additional emerging/unforseen security challenges in the country.”
The lawmakers also approved N23, 678,770,079 as severance gratuity for outgoing legislators and legislative aides, allowances for incoming legislators and legislative aides and induction programme/inauguration of the ninth assembly. On revenue projection for 2019 budget, the National Assembly approved the executive submission of 2.3mbpd daily oil production, approved USD$60 per barrel as oil price benchmark and N305/USD$ exchange rate. On the recurrent expenditure, while President Muhammadu Buhari budget proposal on Ministry of Interior was N569.07 billion, the legislature reduced it to N564.222 billion.
On Education, President Buhari proposed N462.24 billion, while the parliament increased it to N463.395. Defence, N435.62 billion was reduced to N430.829 billion. Ministry of Health, N315.62 billion and the National Assembly passed N315.717 billion. On capital expenditure, the Ministry of Power, Work and Housing carried the larger share with N394.906 billion. This was followed by Ministry of Transportation with a budget of N179.384 billion. Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development got N107.218 billion. Ministry of Defence, N159.125 billion. While Ministry of Education got N58.689, Ministry of Health got N57 billion, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and Women Affairs got N4 billion respectively.
Reintegration of transformed ex-militants, N5 billion for settlement of MDAs electricity bills, N2 billion for IPPIS capturing. In his remark after the passage, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, said: “I thank the committee on Appropriation and all that came here today to consider and pass the budget. I hope that with this budget passage, the Executive will ensure the implementation of the budget for the benefit of Nigerians.”
Addressing newsmen shortly after passing the budget, Goje explained that Federal Government intervention in Zamfara State, severance package for lawmakers and their aides, which comes once in four years and budget provision for security agencies because of unforeseen circumstances jerked-up the budget. Goje said that N45 billion was approved for North East Development Commission (NEDC).
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday 18 December, 2018 laid before the joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives a budget estimate if N8.83 trillion. In the budget proposal, President Buhari had explained that the total projected revenue is N6.97 trillion, which is three per cent lower than the 2018 estimate of N7.17 trillion. He had said that the expected income consisted of oil revenue projected at N3.73 trillion, and non-oil revenue estimated at N1.39 trillion.
“The estimate from non-oil revenue consists of N799.52 billion from company income tax; N229.34 billion from value added tax, and customs duties of N302.5 billion. “We have reduced our expectations from independent revenue N624.58 billion. “Other revenues expected in 2019 include various recoveries of N203.38 billion; N710 billion as proceeds from the restructuring of government equity in joint ventures, and other sundry incomes of N104.1 billion,” he had said.
The President had also explained that the total N8.83 trillion proposed expenditures for 2019 included grants and donor funds amounting to N209.92 billion. Buhari said although the 2019 estimate was lower than the 2018 budget of N9.1 trillion, it was higher than the N8.6 trillion originally proposed by the executive to the National Assembly. The budget deficit is projected to decrease to N1.86 trillion or 1.3 per cent of the GDP in 2019 from N1.95 trillion projected for 2018.
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