The Presidency has given reasons for the upward adjustment in the 2018 budgetary figure from the initial N8.6 trillion to N9.12 trillion by the National Assembly.
It said the move was due to the need to accommodate the upward swing in the price of crude oil in the international market after the budget was tabled before the National Assembly.
Making this revelation, a Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, told Vanguard that the delay in the passage of the budget and the rise in the price of oil in the international market contributed to the change in the size of the budget.
Enang stated that the additional amount would be applied to capital projects while reducing deficit, adding that the government would not dwell much on controversial issues in the budget.
He said, “When you submit the budget to the legislature, if there are indices that change in the budget, the budget can also change.
“The increase in the budget was discussed between us the executive and the legislature because oil price was about $55- $58 per barrel when we submitted the budget.
“At the time the budget was ready to be passed, oil price rose to about $70- $71 per barrel and the executive and the legislature teams met and said we can raise the benchmark from Mr. President’s proposed benchmark of $45 per barrel to $50 per barrel.
“So, that makes some money available and, of course, we had intended that the budget should be passed by December. Budget, having not been passed by December 2017 to January 2018, there were some other sources of revenue which came in.
“We agreed with the legislature that part of it should be applied towards reducing deficit and some applied to some capital projects and that is the reason the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, made some submissions on some capital projects to the Appropriations Committee of the National Assembly, the Senate and House of Representatives and passed them to the Appropriations Committee which has been accommodated to a greater extent.
“We are not at this time going to get into discrepancy whether the budget was increased rightly or wrongly, we are only going to look at what Mr President directed us to look at in terms of budget details.”
Recall that the National Assembly had last week passed the 2018 Appropriation Bill of N9,120,334,988,225 for the 2018 fiscal year, representing an increase of N508 billion from the N8.612 trillion proposal presented to the joint National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari late last year.