President Muhammadu Buhari finally signed the 2018 budget into law on Wednesday, but he didn’t hide his displeasure with the National Assembly for its alterations to the appropriation he forwarded to them.
Buhari had lamented that “not much regard” was given to “the logic behind the constitutional direction that budgets should be proposed by the executive” as it is the Executive that knows and defines its policies and projects.
Were it not for his determination “not to further slow down the pace of recovery of our economy, which has doubtlessly been affected by the delay in passing the budget”, the President, quite frankly, wouldn’t have signed the document.
What re these deductions — and additions, as well — in the proposed budget that may make it “difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation”, as claimed by the President?
1. Provisions for some nationally/regionally strategic infrastructure projects such as counterpart funding for Mambilla Power Plant, 2nd Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway & Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail. Cut by an aggregate of N11.5bn.
2. A total N5billion was cut from the provisions for Pension Redemption Fund and Public Service Wage Adjustment.
3. The provisions for Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and Special Economic Zones/Industrial Parks, which are key industrialization initiatives of the Buhari Administration, were cut by a total of N14.5billion.
4. The provision for construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport was cut from N2billion to N500million, which, according to Buhari “will further delay the completion of this critical project”.
5. The take-off grant for the Maritime University in Delta State, a key strategic initiative of the Federal Government. Cut from N5billion to N3.4billion.
6. The amounts allocated to some strategic major roads.
1. About 70 new road project inserted into the budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. According to Buhari “In doing so, the National Assembly applied some of the additional funds expected from the upward review of the oil price benchmark to the Ministry’s vote”.
2. Provisions for statutory transfers increased by an aggregate of N73.96billion.
3. The budget of the National Assembly itself was increased by N14.5 billion, from N125billion to N139.5 billion without any discussion with the Executive.
In all, the National Assembly made cuts amounting to N347billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects, and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578billion.
In all, the 2018 budget signed into law by the President provides for aggregate expenditures of N9.12trillion — 22.6% higher than the 2017 appropriation.