February 8, 2023


By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari said on Tuesday that sufficient provisions have been made in the 2023 budget for the successful conduct of the upcoming general election and transition program.

President Buhari revealed as he signed the N21.83 trillion 2023 Appropriation Bill along with the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Bill at the presidential villa, Abuja.

He accused the National Assembly of introducing new projects in the 2023 budget proposal which he submitted and allocated N770.72 billion for the new projects.

The president also said that the national legislative body has increased the provisions of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) by N58.55 billion.

Speaking at the signing of this government’s eighth and final annual budget, the president said that the total expenditure of N21.83 trillion is an increase of N1.32 trillion from the original executive proposal for a total expenditure of N20.51 trillion.

The president explained that the 2022 Supplementary Appropriations Bill would allow the government to respond to the havoc caused by the recent nationwide floods in the infrastructure and agriculture sectors.

As usual, he said the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will provide more details on the approved budget and the supporting 2022 Finance Act later.

“We have examined the changes made by the National Assembly to the proposal for the 2023 executive budget.

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The amended fiscal framework for 2023, as approved by the National Assembly, shows additional revenue of N765.79 billion and an unfunded deficit of N553.46 billion.

It is clear that the National Assembly and the executive branch will need to enshrine some of the proposed additional sources of revenue in the fiscal framework. This needs to be rectified.

I have also noted that the National Assembly has introduced new projects in the 2023 budget proposal for which it has allocated N770.72 billion. The National Assembly also increased the provisions of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) by N58.55 billion.

Buhari said his decision to sign the 2023 Appropriation Bill into law, as passed by the National Assembly, was to allow its implementation to begin without delay given the impending transition process to another democratically elected government.

However, he directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to engage with the legislature to review some of the amendments to the executive budget proposal, expressing the hope that the National Assembly will act in this regard will work with the executive arm of the government. .

He urged the National Assembly to reconsider its position on his proposal to securitize the federal government’s outstanding Ways and Means of Balance with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

As I mentioned, the balance has accumulated over several years and represents funding provided by the CBN as a lender of last resort to the government to enable it to meet its obligations to lenders and to cover budget shortfalls in expected revenues and/or borrowings.

“I do not intend to impede the right of the National Assembly to question the composition of this balance sheet, which may still be done even after granting the requested approval.

“However, failure to grant the securitization approval will cost the government approximately N1.8 trillion in additional interest in 2023 given the difference between the applicable interest rates currently MPR plus 3% and the negotiated interest rate of 9% and a 40-year repayment period at the securitized debt of the Ways and Means.”

To ensure more effective implementation of the 2022 main budget, President Buhari thanked the National Assembly for approving his request to extend the validity date to March 31, 2023.

The president directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to work towards the early release of the capital votes for 2023 so that ministries, departments and agencies can begin implementation of their capital projects in a timely manner to support efforts to deliver key projects and public service and improving the living conditions of Nigerians.

The president reiterated that the 2023 budget was designed to promote fiscal sustainability and macroeconomic stability and ensure a smooth transition to the new government, saying that the budget was also designed to promote social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy.

He promised that sufficient provisions had been made in the budget for a successful course of the upcoming parliamentary elections and the transition programme.

According to him: “As I said during the presentation of the 2023 Credit Act, the budget is designed to promote fiscal sustainability and macroeconomic stability and ensure a smooth transition to the new government.

“The budget was also intended to promote social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy. Sufficient provisions have been made in the 2023 Budget for a successful course of the upcoming parliamentary elections and the transition programme.”

To meet budget revenue targets, the president directed MDAs and public corporations to step up their revenue mobilization efforts, including ensuring that all taxpaying organizations and individuals pay their taxes due.

To achieve the laudable targets of the 2023 budget, the president said relevant agencies must continue current efforts to achieve crude oil production and export targets.

“To increase available fiscal resources, MDAs must accelerate the implementation of public-private partnership initiatives, particularly those designed to accelerate the pace of our infrastructure development.

Because this is a deficit budget, the corresponding loan plan will be sent to the National Assembly shortly.

“I count on the cooperation of the National Assembly for the prompt consideration and approval of the plan.”

As for the 2022 Finance Bill, the president lamented that its review, as approved by the National Assembly, has yet to be finalized.

This is because some of the changes made by the National Assembly are subject to review by the relevant government agencies. I urge this to be done quickly so that I can pass the law,” he said.

Those who witnessed the signing of the budget include Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila.

The President thanked the Speaker of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and all distinguished and honorable leaders and members of the National Assembly for the prompt consideration and passage of the appropriations bill.

“As I mentioned during the presentation of the 2023 Credit Act, early approval of the budget proposal is critical to ensure effective execution of our legacy projects, a smooth transition program and an effective start of incoming administration.

“I appreciate the 9th National Assembly’s steadfast commitment to restoring a predictable fiscal year from January to December, as well as the mutual understanding, cooperation and understanding between officials of the government’s executive and legislatures.

“These have enabled the rapid handling and approval of our tax bills over the past four years.”

The president expressed the belief that the next government would support the early submission of the annual appropriations bill to the National Assembly to ensure that it is passed before the start of the fiscal year.

“I firmly believe that the next government will also continue the current public finance management reform efforts, further improve the budget process and, in particular, maintain the tradition of supporting its credit accounts with financial accounts designed to support implementation to facilitate it.

“To preserve and institutionalize the benefits of the reforms, we need to accelerate action and complete work on the Organic Budget Law so that it can become operational before the end of this administration.”

Recognizing that “these are challenging times globally,” the president concluded his speech at the ceremony by expressing deep appreciation to God Almighty for his mercy, while praising the continued resilience, understanding and sacrifice of Nigerians in in light of the current economic challenges.

“As this administration comes to an end, we will accelerate the implementation of critical measures aimed at further improving the Nigerian business environment, improving the well-being of our people and ensuring sustainable medium to long-term economic growth” , he said.

Speaking afterwards, Senate President Ahmad Lawan assured that the National Assembly will work to secure more resources for the government and reduce the budget deficit.

“But that doesn’t mean we should raise taxes that are outrageous to cause problems for our citizens. But I believe as the National Assembly we should look over the next five months to increase the resources available to the government and also make sure that the budget deficit is minimized in the next assembly by the grace of God,” he said .

For his part, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, denied any act of padding or shocking the budget, explaining that lawmakers have done very well to fulfill their constitutional mandate as they do not want to be seen as a “rubber stamp on the executive.”

“If you understand constitutional democracy, there are different layers of government and that is called separation of powers. Our job is to receive proposals, which is why they are called proposals all over the world.

“The National Assembly has done very well in fulfilling its constitutional mandate. All branches of government are needed to be on board to produce a real working paper for the country. The executive did everything they could; and we even have a broader view, a bird’s-eye view of what’s going on across all agencies. And we also supplemented what the executive has done. It’s all for the good of the country and that’s what we’ve done.”

It is now up to the National Assembly or the legislature to collect all those proposals and look at what is happening in the various constituencies. During the budget defense, we have ministries, departments and agencies that come and talk to us and we look at the reality on the ground and what they have in front of them. And whether they can actually carry out their mandate according to their ministries and departments.

“It now behooves the National Assembly, where it dims to adjust numbers, up or down. And that’s exactly what we’ve done. The problem with the National Assembly is that you can’t win to lose. If you return the budget exactly like this, you are called a stamp. If you do what you need to do and adjust numbers for the good of the country. You call it jacking up or blowing up or filling it up,” said Speaker.

The post Provisioning for 2023 Election, Transition Program Says Buhari appeared first on Vanguard News.

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