President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday signed the 2022 Appropriation Bill of N17.126 trillion into law.
The President signed the budget presented to him by his Senior Special Assistant (Senate) on National Assembly, Senator Babajide Omoworare, on Friday at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He was, however, displeased with some changes as well as major additions and reductions made by the National Assembly in critical projects ‘without justification’.
Here are 15 crucial things/changes that worried President Buhari about the 2022 appropriation bill which he just signed.
1. Increase in projected FGN Independent Revenue by N400 billion, the justification for which is yet to be provided to the Executive;
2. Reduction in the provision for Sinking Fund to Retire Maturing Bonds by N22 billion without any explanation;
3. Reduction of the provisions for the Non-Regular Allowances of the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Navy by N15 billion and N5 billion respectively. This is particularly worrisome because personnel cost provisions are based on agencies’ nominal roll and approved salaries/allowances;
4. Furthermore, an increase of N21.72 billion in the Overhead budgets of some MDAs, while the sum of N1.96 billion was cut from the provision for some MDAs without apparent justification;
5. Increase in the provision for Capital spending (excluding Capital share in Statutory Transfer) by a net amount of N575.63 billion, from N4.89 trillion to N5.47 trillion. Nevertheless, provisions for some critical projects were reduced.
6. Reduction of N12.6 billion in the Ministry of Transport’s budget for the ongoing Rail Modernisation projects.
7. Reduction of N25.8 billion from Power Sector Reform Programme under the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and Reduction of N14.5 billion from several projects of the Ministry of Agriculture, and introducing over 1,500 new projects into the budgets of this Ministry and its agencies.
8. Inclusion of new provisions totalling N36.59 billion for National Assembly’s projects in the Service Wide Vote which negates the principles of separation of Powers and financial autonomy of the Legislative arm of government.
9. Buhari said he was also bothered that the changes to the original Executive proposal are in the form of new insertions, outright removals, reductions and/or increases in the amounts allocated to projects.
10. Provisions made for as many as 10,733 projects were reduced while 6,576 new projects were introduced into the budget by the National Assembly.
11. Reduction in the provisions for many strategic capital projects to introduce ‘Empowerment’ projects. The cuts in the provisions for several of these projects by the National Assembly may render the projects unimplementable or set back their completion, especially some of this Administration’s strategic capital projects.
12. According to the president, most of the projects inserted relate to matters that are basically the responsibilities of State and Local Governments and do not appear to have been properly conceptualized, designed, and cost.
13. Many more projects have been added to the budgets of some MDAs with no consideration for the institutional capacity to execute the additional projects and/or for the incremental recurrent expenditure that may be required.
14. The president said it is surprising that despite the National Assembly increasing projected revenue by N609.27 billion, the additional Executive request of N186.53 billion for critical expenditure items could not be accommodated without increasing the deficit, while the sum of N550.59 billion from the projected incremental revenues was allocated at the discretion of National Assembly.
15. Buhari said he signed the 2022 Appropriation Bill into law to enable its implementation to commence on 1st January 2022.
However, he said he will revert to the National Assembly with a request for amendment and/or virement as soon as the Assembly resumes to ensure that critical ongoing projects that are cardinal to this administration, and those nearing completion, do not suffer a setback due to reduced funding.
Despite the lingering adverse effects of COVID-19 on budget implementation, the president said he is happy with the success recorded in the implementation of the 2021 Budget.
He disclosed that the sum of N3.94 trillion that was provided for the implementation of capital projects by MDAs during the fiscal year has been released fully.
Speaking further about the budget, the president said that to enable MDAs to complete the implementation of their 2021 capital projects and optimize the impact of the capital budget on the economy, they have been allowed to continue to expend the funds released for their 2021 capital budgets till 31st March 2022.
While appreciating the understanding and speedy action of the National Assembly on the matter, the president explained that as the 2022 Budget will be the last full-year budget to be implemented by his administration, its effective implementation is very critical for delivering his government’s legacy projects, promoting social inclusion, and strengthening the resilience of the economy.
According to him, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning will implement all measures required to ensure timely and targeted release of capital votes.
All Ministries, Departments and Agencies are expected to effect an early commencement of project implementation, while ensuring productive use of funds provided for achievement of the objectives set for their sectors.
Considering the incidence of new COVID-19 variants globally, President Buhari assured that he will ensure timely implementation of measures provided for in the 2022 Budget to contain the spread of the virus and protect our people.
Adding that his government will continue to count on the collaboration of the state governments in its effort to protect the lives and livelihood of the people.
In a bid to achieve the laudable objectives of the 2022 Budget, Buhari said his administration will further intensify revenue mobilization efforts. He said he is optimistic about the ability to finance the budget considering the positive global oil market outlook and the continuing improvement in our non-oil revenues.
Speaking on how to achieve revenue targets, the president said revenue-generating agencies, and indeed all MDAs must ensure prompt and full remittance of collected revenues.
“Relevant Agencies must also ensure the realization of our crude oil production and export targets. I also appeal to our fellow citizens and the business community at large to fulfill their tax obligations promptly,” he stressed.
The president, however, was of the opinion that being a deficit budget, the specific Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly promptly, adding that he is counting on the cooperation of the National Assembly for a quick consideration and approval of the plan when submitted.
He assured Nigerians that all borrowings will be judiciously utilized and invested in the future growth and prosperity of the nation.
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