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Buhari yet to assent to 2021 budget

The ‘delay’ in signing the fiscal document threatens the Jan to Dec budget cycle.

As at 29th December, 2020, the 2021 appropriation bill is yet to be assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, days after the National Assembly passed the bill, Daily Trust reports.

The president’s ‘delay’ in signing the fiscal document threatens the January to December budget cycle, which was achieved last year, sources said.

It was learnt that pressure is being mounted on the president to sign the fiscal document so as not to give room for condemnation.

Buhari signed the 2020 appropriation bill into law on December 17, 2019, 12 days after it was passed by the National Assembly.

The document was later revised mid- 2020 following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, which battered the country’s economy.

The National Assembly had, during an emergency session convened last week Monday, passed a N13.58 trillion budget for the 2021 fiscal year.


Passed by NASS

The budget was passed after the two chambers considered and adopted the reports of its committees on the 2021 Appropriations bill.

The legislature had since transmitted the fiscal document to President Buhari for assent.

The Presidency has confirmed the receipt of the 2021 budget but said it is studying the document for “consequential executive action.”

If the January-December budget calendar is anything to go by, the president has between today and Thursday, to assent to the appropriation bill.

The National Assembly had, on several occasions, vowed to maintain the January to December budget calendar.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan had, while fixing the date for the budget passage, said the Red Chamber decided to hold a special session on Monday, December 21, to consider and pass the budget 2021.

“This is in keeping with our legislative agenda of ensuring that the annual budget has a January to December cycle. We did that last year, and by the grace of God, we will do it again,” Lawan had said.


‘We’re studying the budget’

The Presidency on Monday confirmed the transmission of the 2021 Appropriation Bill passed last week by the National Assembly to President Buhari.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Babajide Omoworare, confirmed the receipt to Daily Trust.

He said the bill was being looked at by President Buhari for consequential executive action.

“This is to confirm that the Appropriation Bill has been transmitted by the National Assembly to Mr President in conformity with the provision of Section 59 of the Constitution.

“The said bill is presently being looked at by Mr President and consequential executive action will be taken in due course,” Omoworare said.

He, however, did not disclose whether the president would append his signature to the document before the end of the year.

Speaking on the development, an economist, Abba Ali Alhaji, said there was the need for the president to also work at the speed of the National Assembly.


Need for speed

“If the two chambers of the National Assembly had the courage to convene an emergency sitting simply to give the appropriation legal backing, I see no reason why the president should waste time in assenting to it.

“Honestly, the president has received the support of the legislature more than any other in recent history and he should reciprocate.

“Of course, there is the need for him to study the document, more so, members of the National Assembly have increased the total budget figure.

“That notwithstanding, there should have been an active voice from the Villa, a statement indicating the exact date it will be passed,” he said.

A senator who does not want his name in print said they also expected that the president would assent to the budget without delay.

“Different joint committees including the one that has representatives from the Presidency and the National Assembly worked on the document in order to be on the same page.

“The essence of working together is to ensure that there are no areas of misunderstanding that would lead to any delay in giving the appropriation legal backing.

“Our aim is to change the notion that budget is a yearly ritual. We want to make its funding and timely implementation legally binding.  And in all honesty, we have started doing that. As you are aware, we extended the implementation of the capital component of the 2020 budget to run simultaneously with that of 2021.

“Our prayer is that we get a corresponding commitment from the Presidency for the benefit of Nigerians,” he said.


Budget highlights

The 2021 budget is predicated on the benchmark price of crude oil, fixed at $40 USD per barrel; Crude Oil Production at 1.86 Mbps; Exchange rate at N379/US$; and Gross Domestic Production (GDP) Growth rate at 3.00 percent.

Out of the total sum of N13,588,027,886,175 for the fiscal year 2021, N496,528,471,273 is for Statutory transfers; N3,324,380,000,000 is for Debt service; N5,641,970,060,680 is for Recurrent expenditure; and N4,125,149,354,222 for Capital expenditure.

For Capital expenditure in the year 2021, the sum of N24,090,340,416 was budgeted for the Presidency; N127,850,984,984 for Ministry of Defence; N7,994,280,245 for Ministry of Foreign Affairs; N19,721,066,865 for Federal Ministry of Information and Culture; N38,846,293,565 for Ministry of Interior; N2,491,111,568 for Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation; N218,432,074 for Auditor General of the Federation; N17,882,480,948 for Ministry of Police Affairs; N17,664,285,343 for Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy; and N45,647,587,613 for the Office of the National Security Adviser.

Others such as the Infrastructure Concessionary Regulatory Commission had N353,678,953; Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation – N45,637,061,225; Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs – N8,872,787,424; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development – N211,077,457,584; Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning – N376,359,450,498; Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment – N64,760,781,172; Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment – N63,526,109,193; Federal Ministry of Science and Technology – N107,061,118,360; Federal Ministry of Transport – N209,736,113,910; Federal Ministry of Aviation – N70,189,215,332; and Federal Ministry of Power – N206,745,895,389.

N3,340,140,120 was approved for the Ministry of Petroleum Resources; N12,605,747,806 for the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development; N399,694,565,222 for the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing; N110,455,765 for the National Salaries and Wages Commission; N261,170,602 for the Fiscal Responsibility Commission; N159,745,000,315 for the Federal Ministry of Water Resources; N5,097,558,027 for the Federal Ministry of Justice; N1,363,636,403 for the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission; N37,330,762,421 for the Federal Capital Territory Administration.

The sum of N22,024,592,197 was approved for the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs; N10,639,249,276 for the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development; N11,204,210,256 for Ministry of Women Affairs; N156,172,307,765 for the Federal Ministry of Education; N134,591,025,027 for Federal Ministry of Health; N24,554,710,490 for Federal Ministry of Environment; N4,839,951,093 for National Population Commission; and N75,768,539,782 for the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

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