By Ismaila Chafe/Taiye Agbaje
President Muhammadu Buhari’s N8.83 trillion 2019 budget proposal has been welcomed as successful by Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffery Onyeama was also excited by the outing which he sees as positive to Buhari’s quest for second tenure.
At a joint session of the National Assembly, Buhari said N3.12trillion of the amount had been set aside for completion of ongoing and new projects.
The 2019 budget estimate is N300 billion less than the 2018 budget.
According to him, in order to get full value for monies expended by the government over time and to avoid duplication and waste, his administration’s emphasis will continue to be on completion of existing projects.
“We have allocated N2.28 trillion for capital spending, inclusive of capital in statutory transfers.
“For comprehensiveness and transparency, the expenditure plans of the larger Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) as well as Multi-lateral and Bi-lateral project-tied loans have been integrated into the 2019 -to- 2021 Medium Term Fiscal Framework.
“With the inclusion of N275.88 billion representing capital for the larger GOEs and N556.02 billion for Multi-lateral/Bi-lateral project-tied loans, the aggregate capital budget is N3.12 trillion. This represents 30 percent of the total FGN proposed expenditure for 2019.
The President said the 2019 budget was based on oil price benchmark of 60 dollars per barrel, oil production estimate of 2.3 million barrels per day including condensates, exchange rate of N305 to the US dollars, real GDP growth of 3.01 per cent, and inflation rate of 9.98 per cent.
He said: “A total expenditure of N8.83 trillion is estimated for 2019. This includes grants and donor funds of N209.92 billion. This provision is less than the 2018 FGN appropriated expenditure estimate of N9.12 trillion.
“However, it is higher than the N8.6 trillion originally proposed by the Executive Branch to the National Assembly for 2018.
“The budget deficit is projected to decrease to N1.86 trillion (or 1.3 percent of GDP) in 2019 from N1.95 trillion projected for 2018. This reduction is in line with our plans to progressively reduce deficit and borrowings.
“The proposed N8.83 trillion of 2019 Aggregate Expenditure comprises: Recurrent Costs of N4.04 trillion; Debt Service of N2.14 trillion; Statutory Transfers of about N492.36 billion; Sinking Fund of N120 billion which will be used to retire maturing bond to local contractors; and Capital Expenditure of N2.031 trillion including capital supplementation but excluding the capital component of Statutory Transfers.’’
He said a substantial part of the recurrent cost proposal for 2019 was for the payment of salaries and overheads in ministries providing critical public services including N569.07 billion for the Ministry of Interior, N435.62 billion for the Ministry of Defence, N462.24 billion for the Ministry of Education, and N315.62 billion for the Ministry of Health.
He said the allocation to the ministries represents significant increases over votes in previous budgets, underscoring the present administration’s commitment to increase investment in national security and human capital development.
The President said personnel costs, estimated at N2.29 trillion, amounted to nearly 40 percent of the projected revenues, adding that N2.28 trillion has been allocated for capital spending, inclusive of capital in statutory transfers.
According to the president, the 2019 budget proposal is intended to further place the economy on the path of inclusive, diversified and sustainable growth in order to continue to lift significant numbers of our citizens out of poverty.
He said the underlying drivers of the 2019 revenue projections had been adjusted to reflect current realities.
He added that allocations to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government were guided by the three objectives of the ERGP namely restoring and sustaining growth, investing in people, and building a globally competitive economy.
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, described President Buhari’s presentation of the 2019 Budget as “a successful outing.”
Oshiomhole told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) shortly after Buhari presented the budget at the National Assembly in Abuja: “I think it was done very well and analytically well presented. It covers all the issues.
“It gives account of the previous budget, how it was implemented and why we will have to consolidate going forward. I think it was a successful outing.
“I’m impressed, I’m excited and I pray that the National Assembly will not distort it in a way that will distort the tenet, well-thought out outcome,” he said.
Reacting to the rowdiness amidst the budget presentation, Oshiomhole said: “I think the lawmakers generally agreed that the budget was good.
“All the requirements of the law have been met, namely to lay the budget. How the senators behaved thereafter is their privilege.”
On his part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, simply described the budget presentation as “excellent.”