Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday signed the N7.44 trillion budget recently passed by the National Assembly after he was directed to do so by his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari.
After signing the budget ,Osinbajo pointed out that it was an important milestone in the country economic recovery and Growth plan laid in April by President Buhari.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, had earlier in a statement made available to newsmen announced that Osinbajo was given the nod to sign the Appropriation bill in the interest of the nation’s economy.
Shehu stated “Following the receipt of a full brief on the 2017 Appropriation Bill as passed by the National Assembly, and to buttress the unity at the highest level of government, President Muhammadu Buhari has indicated that it is in the interest of the nation’s economy for the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to sign the Appropriation Bill into law.
“In a letter dated June 10, 2017, which he personally signed and addressed to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, the President also said he was “pleased by the joint resolution that the Executive would submit next year’s budget proposals by October 2017 and the National Assembly will conclude the Appropriation process by December 2017, so that the country can return to a normal fiscal period from next year onwards.”
The Acting President expressed appreciation to the Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, as well as the entire leadership and members of the National Assembly for completing work on the 2017 Appropriation Bill.
He pointed out that the process of preparing and processing this Bill was much smoother than the 2016 Appropriations Bill adding that on the executive side, there were no allegations of errors, or mistakes, and there was a significant improvement in the quality of the preparation, as well as the presentation.
Osinbajo also commended the Ministry of Budget and Planning for such a remarkable improvement over a single budget cycle.
On the side of the National Assembly, Osinbajo commended the collaborative spirit of the engagements the MDAs had with their various committees, and with the leadership, during the budget defence sessions saying there were far fewer reported cases of acrimony, or hostile wrangling this year, than in the past.
“From the reports we received, the sessions were generally conducted in a friendly atmosphere. There is no doubt that our democracy is maturing”, he said.
He, however, said the final presentation and the signing of the budget has been considerably delayed as this was largely due to disagreements they had about the changes introduced to the 2017 Budget proposals by the National Assembly.
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 further noted that It is designed to bring the Nigerian economy out of recession unto a path of sustainable and inclusive growth and the budget has a revenue projection of N5.08 trillion and an aggregate expenditure of N7.44 trillion. The projected fiscal deficit of N2.36 trillion is to be financed largely by borrowing.
Osinbajo assured those who have expressed concern about the growing public debt that the government is taking several actions to grow government revenues as well as plug revenue leakages.
He said details of the budget, as approved by the National Assembly, will be made available by the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning.
He observed that the country ‘s economy is already signaling a gradual recovery as growth is headed towards positive territory.
Osinbajo expressed confidence that the 2017 Budget will deliver positive economic growth and prosperity – one that is self-sustaining and inclusive and In this regard, the 2017 budget will deliver positive economic growth and prosperity – one that is self-sustaining and inclusive and In this regard, the 2017 budget will be implemented in line with our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
He explained that “Over the 2017-2020 plan period, we are focusing on five (5) key execution priorities, namely: Stabilizing the macroeconomic environment; Agriculture and Food security; Energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products; Improved transportation infrastructure; and Industrialization through support for micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs).
“The 2017 budget includes provisions that reflect these priorities. To demonstrate our commitment to following through our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, the 2017 budget allocates over N2 trillion to capital expenditure, principally infrastructure.
“For instance, we are committing over N200 billion to improve transport infrastructure such as roads and rail; over N500 billion for investments in works, power, and housing; and N46 billion for Special Economic Zone Projects to be set up in each geopolitical zone.“
He said the signing of the budget will trigger activities in the domestic economy which will lead to job creation and more opportunities for employment, especially for our youth.
He reiterated that the implementation of the 2017 Budget will bring added impetus to the ongoing economic recovery as the government will intensify its economic diversification efforts in their bid to expand opportunities for wealth creation and employment, thereby creating inclusive and sustainable growth..