The 2018 budget is set to face further delay despite its passage by the National Assembly yesterday.
Our correspondents report that after the passage of the budget in the House, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, announced the setting up of a conference committee to harmonize some ‘little changes’ in the budget with the Senate.
Some of the changes, it was observed, had to do with the title of the Appropriation Bill and the date it is to take effect.
The lawmakers agreed that the budget should commence immediately after the president assents it into law. The harmonization process may take days to be completed.
Further hurdle before the budget also include, transmission of a clean copy for presidential assent, consideration by the executive prior to the assent. In 2017, the budget passage and assent lasted for May 11 to June 12.
The 2018 budget details
The 2018 budget was passed by both chambers of the legislature yesterday; six months after President Buhari presented the proposal.
The fiscal document was premised on the exchange rate of N305 to a dollar, benchmark of $51 per barrel and 2.3 barrel per day of crude production.
The budget details showed that the ministry of works, power and housing would spend N682.9bn under capital projects, while the ministries of transportation and education got N251.4bn and N102.9bn respectively.
Under the service wide votes, N350bn was approved for special intervention programme; N193.3bn for power sector reform programme; N78bn for Operation Lafiya Dole and other military operations; N65bn for the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
Others are N2.3bn as entitlements of former presidents and heads of states as well as ex-vice presidents and chief of general staff; N10bn for the settlements of MDAs’ electricity bills; N4bn for Treasury Single Account (TSA) operations, among others.
How N/ Assembly added N508bn to budget
The National Assembly increased the budget figure from N8.6trillion presented by President Buhari to N9.1trillion with an increase of N508bn.
At both chambers, chairmen of Appropriations committees, Senator Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe) and Mustapha Bala Dawaki (APC, Kano) explained how the N508bn was added.
The increase, they said was a collective agreement between both the Executive and the Legislature as a result of increase in oil price benchmark.
They said the increase was applied in some critical sectors such as reduction of deficit, N50.88bn; security, N46.72bn; health, N57.15bn and power, works and housing, N106.50bn.
Others are infrastructure for the 12 newly established universities and meal subsidy for unity schools, N15.70bn; judiciary, N10bn; Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), N44.20bn.
Buhari’s $496m fighter jets request dumped
It emerged during the consideration of the budget that Buhari’s $496m request for the purchase of Supper Tucano was not included.
President Buhari had in a letter dated April 13, this year requested for the inclusion of the $496m in this year’s budget. The President in the letter explained that the money was wired into the US government directly.
Speaking during the consideration of the budget, Goje said “The $496m was not included because of the budget size. We thought it should come in through supplementary budget.”
Again, N/ Assembly raises own budget
The budget of the National Assembly was increased from N125bn to N139.5bn under statutory transfers. The parliamentarians had last year increased their budget from N115bn to N125bn.
Unlike last year, detail of the National Assembly budget was not made available to the public. It’s a one line item in the budget.
Contacted, Senate Spokesperson, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger) said details of the National Assembly budget would be made available at appropriate time.
Saraki wants supplementary budget for fuel subsidy
Speaking after the passage, Senate President Bukola Saraki demanded for the submission of a supplementary budget on fuel subsidy.
“ In the area that we could not address, which is the issue of fuel subsidy, I want to make an appeal again that the Executive needs to look into this for the interest of transparency where an expenditure close to over N1 trillion must be captured in the budget,” he said.