Acting President Yemi Osinbajo who the 2017 budget on Monday, June 12, has explained the reasons for the delay in the signing of the 2017 Appropriation Bill.
After signing the budget on Monday evening at the presidential villa, Prof Osinbajo explained that the final presentation and the signing of the budget was considerably delayed due to disagreements between the executive and the National Assembly. In his words:
“This was largely due to disagreements we had about the changes introduced to our 2017 Budget proposals by the National Assembly.
“The Executive took the view that the changes fundamentally affected some of our priority programmes and would make implementation extremely difficult and in some cases impossible.”
However, Osinbajo said the disagreements were resolved and the leadership of the National Assembly promised to return to a predictable January to December fiscal year, because it will be in accordance with the financial year of most private sector companies, underscoring the crucial relationship between government and the private sector.
Therefore, given the National Assembly leadership’s commitment, the Acting President revealed that the 2018 budget will be submitted to the National Assembly by October 2017, as they will be working towards the passage of the 2018 budget into law before the end of 2017.
Describing the budget signing as an important milestone in the implementation of the economic and growth plan programme put in place by President Buhari in April, the acting President, also noted that the 2017 budget had fewer errors than that of last year.
Prof Osinbajo also appreciated the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as the entire leadership and members of the National Assembly for completing work on the 2017 Appropriation Bill.
“The process of preparing and processing this Bill was much smoother than the 2016 Appropriation Bill. 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.
“I wish to commend the Ministry of Budget and Planning for such a remarkable improvement over a single budget cycle.
“On the side of the National Assembly, I wish to commend the collaborative spirit of the engagements our MDAs had with their various committees, and with the leadership, during the budget defence sessions. 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.
Prof Osinbajo said the 2017 budget which he christened “Budget of Economic Recovery and Growth” reflects this administration’s commitment to ensure strong linkage between the medium-term Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, recently launched by President Buhari, and the annual budgets.
“It is designed to bring the Nigerian economy out of recession unto a path of sustainable and inclusive growth. 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.
“As you are all aware, our economy is already signalling a gradual recovery as growth is headed towards positive territory. First quarter GDP, at -0.52% compares favourably with -2.06% in the first quarter of 2016. Inflation is declining – down to 17.24 per cent from 18.74 per cent as at May 2016. Our external reserves are now US$30.28 billion as at June 8, 2017 up from US$26.59 billion as at May 31, 2016.
“We are also gradually instilling confidence in our exchange rate regime. This improvement in GDP growth and other macro-economic indicators is largely attributable to our strategic implementation of the 2016 Budget as well as stronger macroeconomic management and policy coordination.
“I am confident that the 2017 budget will deliver positive economic growth and prosperity – one that is self-sustaining and inclusive. In this regard, the 2017 budget will be implemented in line with our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan,” Osinbajo stated.