By Time Nigeria
Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo signed the 2017 Appropriation Bill of the sum of N7.44 trillion into law, Monday.
Osinbajo who described the event as “an important milestone’’ in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, also themed the budget as the budget of economic recovery and growth. “Budget of Economic Recovery and Growth’’ he projected revenue of N5.08 trillion with deficit of N2.36 trillion.
A total of N2.98 trillion was earmarked for recurrent non-debt expenditure, while N2.17 trillion was earmarked for contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure exclusive of capital expenditure in statutory transfers.
A total of N434.41 billion was earmarked for statutory transfers; N1.84 trillion for debt service and N177.46 billion for sinking fund for maturing bonds.
The acting president said the appropriation act was an important milestone in the administration’s economic recovery and growth plan.
He however thanked the Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives and the entire leadership of the National Assembly for completing the work on record time.
He noted that the process of passing the 2017 appropriation bill in the National Assembly was smoother than that of 2016, as there were no allegations of errors or mistakes.
Acting President acknowledged that there was improvement in the quality of interpretation and presentation.
He thereby commended the Ministry of Budget and Planning on the “remarkable improvement over a single budget cycle.’’ He lauded the collaborative spirit between Ministries, Departments and Agencies and the various committees of the National Assembly and their leadership during the budget defence process.
He noted that there were few reported cases of acrimony or hostile wrangling during the budget defence process.
Osinbajo said that reports indicated that the sessions were done in a friendly atmosphere, an indication that the nation’s democracy was maturing well.
The acting president said that the final presentation and signing of the budget was delayed due to disagreements between the executive and the NASS on changes made in the proposal.
According to him, the executive took the view that the changes fundamentally affected some of its priority programmes and would make implementation extremely difficult and in some cases impossible.
He said that the leadership of NASS “adopted a commendably patriotic and statesmanlike approach on engagement in resolving these critical issues.’’
Osinbajo said that the leadership of NASS had promised to re-instate budgetary allocations for all the important executive projects.
He listed the projects to include the railway standard gauge project, Mambilla power project, the second Niger Bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan expressway among others.
Osinbajo said the reinstatement would be through an application for virement by the executive which NASS had agreed to expeditiously consider.
“It is as a result of that understanding and the outcome of our detailed engagements that we are able to sign the 2017 appropriation bill into law.
“I am also pleased to mention that in our discussion with the NASS we have jointly resolved to return to a predictable January to December fiscal year.
“It is a particularly important development because this accords with the financial year of most private sector companies, underscoring the crucial relationship between government and the private sector,’’ he said.
Accordingly, Osinbajo said that the 2018 budget will be submitted in by October 2017 while the leadership of NASS has committed to work towards passing it by before the end of the year.
It would be recalled that the appropriation bill was submitted to the acting president on May 17, after it was passed by the National Assembly.