President Goodluck Jonathan has chosen Tuesday, November 12, 2013 to present the proposed 2014 budget before a joint session of the National Assembly.
The date for the presentation of the Budget followed a letter dated October 23rd which was addressed to the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The letters were read in both chambers of the National Assembly at plenary today.
Following the development, the Senate stood down some of the items listed on its Order Paper, which it had scheduled for deliberation at plenary. This gave an opportunity for members of the Senate and House Committees on Finance to meet revenue generating agencies to consider the Medium Term Expenditure Framework.
It will be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan had on September 17, submitted to the Senate, the 2014-2016 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.
Both documents set the parameters for the medium-term expenditure plan of government before the 2014 budget presentation.
An economic historian, Tunji Ogunyemi on Nigerians to exercise patience with the government over the lack of certain social basic amenities.
Ogunyemi, who was discussing the budget implementation on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, noted that “the budget itself is a statement of intent to earn as it is to spend” adding that “if there is no correlation between your earnings and estimates, then it affects your spending”.
However, he said “Nigerians may be a little edgy when it comes to capital budget. They want to see the roads, as far as they are concerned they want to see the electricity, they want to see the universities well maintained, well run and as far as they are concerned they want to see all the equipment bought”
He went further saying “they actually forget that people are earning some salaries, overhead costs are paid, personal costs are handled”.
He added that “when people speak concerning the implementation of the budget, they may decide not to be circumspect about it”.
He also commended the implementation level of the Nigerian budget but noted that federal government can implement it even better.
He called on the federal government to consolidate its fight against pipeline vandals as it will increase generated income from oil sales which will make available fundsto meet the demands of striking lecturers and doctors.
He revealed that it will cost the government a jaw-dropping N9.2 billion from N8.7 billion spent in 2012 for the maintenance of the presidential fleet, while N1.2 billion has been earmarked for feeding the presidency.
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has asked the senate to restore the allocations of some capital projects which lawmakers reduced in the 2013 budget by sending another amendment of the budget.
In a letter written to the Senate, the president said the executive seeks the cooperation of the senate in restoring the allocations to capital projects to promote national development.
There are no signs that the rift between the National Assembly and the executive over the 2013 budget will be resolved as both sides have not agreed on several aspects of the budget.
The president asked federal lawmakers to restore allocations to capital projects which were reduced in this year’s budget.
The bone of contention between the two arms of government includes allocation to Abuja Lokoja road in the ministry of works which was reduced by N4 billion, Kano Maiduguri road reduced by N3.5 billion, dualisation of Ibadan Ilorin section 2 reduced by N5.5 billion.
The President has also asked that all allocations in the Ministry of Health for MDG HIV/ AIDS anti-retroviral drugs be restored. This had been reduced by N1 billion while routine immunization vaccines was reduced by N1.75billion.
Senate president David Mark reeled out other capital projects which the president wants their allocations restored.
The president had earlier accused federal lawmakers of encroaching on the powers of the executive with the clauses inserted by both chambers in the budget.
The executive had also accused the National Assembly of removing funds from the capital and recurrent expenditure to constituency projects, an accusation which the presidency has laid wide open from his recent correspondence to the national assembly.
Senate spokesman, Senator Enyinaya Abaribe has voiced his concerns about the magnitude of amendment which the president is seeking in the 2013 budget. He added that the senate is not going to take kindly to remarks credited to the Minister of Finance over the 2013 budget.
The National Assembly passed the 2013 budget in December 2012.
The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, has expressed concern over the funding mechanism used to finance power projects.
The Minister is calling for a special intervention fund for the power sector, besides budgetary allocations.
Prof. Nebo, in an interview with some journalists in Abuja, said unless something serious happens to ensure power projects are not stopped midway, the sector was at the risk of total collapse.
He argued that power projects are very sensitive and abandoning them would lead to the failure of the whole process and meant a return to square one.
He said: “When Power Ministry begins a project, that project remains uncompleted until it is completed. So if you cut off the fund midway or two third way or three quarter way, they remain like that.”
The Minister said the federal government should consider sensitive projects as those of power when preparing budgets and disbursing funds to ministries.
“There should be a rethink even in our budgetary process whereby projects that are started must be funded. If they are appropriated, that they should be cash-backed; that’s what we’re asking for,” Prof. Nebo said.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali, has disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan had approved the institution of an alternative funding mechanism for the successor companies of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
This is to give the successor firms, comprising generation and distribution companies, stability till their handover to the preferred bidders.
Mr. Igali made this known when the Senate Committee on Power visited the ministry as part of their oversight functions, stating that due to the zero allocation to the PHCN successor companies in the 2013 budget, they have been having a hard time financing their operations.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Philip Aduda, urged the ministry to ensure that all labour-related issues with the PHCN workers were settled before handover to the preferred bidders to avoid litigation or other problems that could affect the gains so far recorded by the privatisation exercise.
The Minister of Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe, has identified inadequate budgetary provision and staff as some of the factors limiting its performance.
Ms Ochekpe stated this to journalists at the end of the weekly meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation (FEC) in Abuja.
The minister, who briefed the Council on the performance of her ministry in 2012, said with a N79.34 billion budget in 2012, the ministry got a warrant of N51.3 billion that was backed by N43.86 billion cash. Out of this, the sum of N46.66 billion was utilised, bringing an achievement of 99.95 per cent fund utilisation
She enumerated some of her achievements to include the completion of Makurdi regional water supply scheme, Mangu regional water supply scheme, provision of hand pumps in 16 states, completion of motorised boreholes in 35 communities, town water supply scheme in 3 states, and completion of 9 dams as well as irrigation projects in Jigawa, Kano, Sokoto and one other state.
The Minister said her ministry had increased the area of dry season cultivation by upgrading the river basins across the country adding that there had been a significant improvement in the cultivation of wheat in the Chad basin and Zamfara State.
She listed some of the challenges of her ministry as insufficient budgetary provisions, rain season, lack of synergy between federal and state governments, non-payment of pump water rate which also affected the ministry’s internally generated revenue (IGR) and lack of sustenance of projects funding.
Other challenges, according to the minister, include lack of adequate staff, effect of climate change on the ministry’s activities, obsolete equipment in the river basin development authorities, security challenges, lack of legislative framework to regulate activities of the sector, need for more hydrological facilities, and need for more processing and storage facilities.
Five months into the year, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the economy Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; has cautioned on the 2013 budget warning that it is not implementable due to deductions made by the National Assembly.
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the budget isn’t implementable because the chunk of monies allocated to key sectors of the economy has been slashed by the lawmakers.
The Minister spoke to Channels TV from Cape Town, South Africa where she is attending the World Economic Forum on Africa.
According to her “as we speak it is difficult to pay salaries of civil servants because N32 billion allocated for payment of salaries has been removed.”
This is coming just as the House of Representative hinted on Thursday that it may turn down proposed amendments to the 2013 budget sent by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Briefing journalists in Abuja, chairman of the House Committee on media and publicity, Representative Zakari Mohammed explained that the amendment is the same as the initial budget forwarded to the National Assembly.
The 2013 Budget which was passed in December 2012 and signed into law by President Jonathan in February 2013, has remained a thorny issue between the National Assembly and the Presidency.
There are indications that the House of Representatives may turn down proposed amendments to the 2013 budget sent by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Briefing journalists in Abuja, chairman of the House Committee on media and publicity, Representative Zakari Mohammed explained that the amendment is the same as the initial budget forwarded to the National Assembly.
Consideration of the amendment to the 2013 budget was skipped during plenary on Thursday till Tuesday next week to enable all lawmakers to be present and make contributions to the bill.
Representative Mohammed added that the lawmakers were surprised at the volume of the 2013 Budget amendment proposal.
He however explained that the law makers would consider the proposed amendments when there are a sizeable number of law makers around.
He hinted that the budget might return as it came.
Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed of Kwara State has given assurance of the readiness of the executive to fully implement the 2013 budget for the benefit of the people.
The governor while fielding questions from journalists during the monthly television and radio programme, ‘Governor Explains’, noted that the government had set up bodies like the Price Intelligence Unit and the Budget Implementation Unit to ensure the implementation of the 2013 budget.
He pointed out that any serious and responsive government would always strive to execute all that is provided for in the annual budget.
The governor also made known his administration’s plan to build what he called mega secondary schools in the three geo-political zones of the state.
He explained that the schools when completed will serve as clusters to other nearby schools as their facilities could be used especially for practical purposes.
The governor also disclosed that the N18 billion bond floated by the immediate past government will be fully paid off by the month of May 2014.
Three financial Analysts, Odilim Enwegbara, Eghes Eyienyen and Martin Udogie on Saturday examined some of the challenges and controversies surrounding the 2013 budget that was recently signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan.
While speaking as guests on Channels Television’s weekend programme, Sunrise, the analyst examined the effect of the National Assembly stance of ‘no budget’ for the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), the oil benchmark controversy between the lawmakers and the presidency, constituency projects and the issue of economic growth.
Recall that President Jonathan on Tuesday assented to the 2013 Appropriation Bill, ending the long-drawn disagreement between the executive and the legislature over the bill.
The president signed the N4.987 trillion budget passed by the National Assembly into law at a quiet ceremony witnessed by a few government officials.
The budget was transmitted to the presidency on January 15 and since then, the executive and the legislature had been holding meetings to resolve some grey areas identified in the document.
Among the areas of disagreement between the executive and the legislature are the inclusion of constituency projects in the budget and the provision of zero budget for SEC.
In the video below Messrs Enwegbara, Eyienyen and Udogie discuss these issues and what the 2013 means for the Nigerian economy.
In the aftermath of the budget crises between the executive and the National Assembly over the 2013 Budget, the Senate has moved to reduce the role of the federal Ministry of Finance in the budgeting process. A federal lawmaker, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, on Thursday, sponsored a motion which would make budget making a joint responsibility of the Budget Office and National Planning Commission.
He said the current annual incremental, envelope based budgeting being used by the Ministry of Finance is arbitrary and inimical to growth.
Senator Adetunmbi who moved the motion at the plenary session, called for a review of the country’s budgeting process and that the National Planning Commission should be involved in the budgeting process.
He said the current national budgeting process makes the legislature less involved and at best reactive, a motion some lawmakers agreed to.
The Senate President, David Mark said other government agencies have usurped the role of the National Planning Commission.
The Senate mandated its Committee on National Planning and Finance to review the current national planning and budgeting linkage and recommend amendment to the relevant laws.
The Ministry of Finance has joined the effort by the Federal Government to re-assure Nigerians that the country’s economy remains on a sound footing, despite the global economic uncertainty.
The Ministry, in a statement referred to numerous comments and articles in the media, questioning the performance of the nation’s economy as well as casting doubt over the management of the Excess Crude Account and the External Reserves of the country.
While promising to continue to make effort to respond to demands for greater transparency in the management of the nation’s revenues, the Ministry declared that: “the Nigerian economy is strong. Our economic performance is robust when viewed against a whole range of objective factors. Inflation is now down to single-digit at 9.0% in January 2013, compared with 12.6% in January 2012. The exchange rate has been relatively stable, and the fiscal deficit at just under 2% of GDP is on a downward trajectory, and below our threshold of 3% of GDP.
“Our national debt is at a sustainable level at about 19.4% of GDP. Overall, GDP growth for 2012 was 6.5%, and projected at 6.75% for 2013, compared with the projected global growth of 3.5%. The above facts have been independently noted and validated by international ratings agencies (such as Fitch, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s) who have upgraded the country’s economic outlook, even as other countries are being downgraded. In addition, Nigeria’s bonds have recently been included in the Barclays and JP Morgan Emerging Market indices.”
The ministry urged Nigerians to stop denigrating the efforts being made to correct things that are wrong in the system, maintaining that the current administration is focused on diversifying and growing the economy “through investments in agriculture, housing and construction, manufacturing, aviation, power, roads, rail, solid minerals and the information and communication technology (ICT) sectors by both government and the private sector,” adding that the economy is certainly moving in the right direction.
On the external reserves, the ministry explained the three part components to be made up of “the CBN’s external reserves, the Excess Crude Account, and the Federal Government’s funds belonging to agencies such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for joint venture cash calls and so on. This is simply a matter of definition, and follows international best practices and reporting guidelines.”
On the claims of inconsistency of account balances provided by the Ministry of Finance and the CBN, the statement said: “It is worth noting that the Ministry of Finance typically reports its balances following Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) Meetings, which often take place at the middle of the month, whereas CBN data are reported at the end of each month. There is thus a time lag between the reports from the two institutions.
“As a result, there are usually some differences due to ‘transit items’ which are yet to be reconciled in both accounts. In addition, for quite a while, the CBN excess crude reports have included the $1 billion allocated to the Sovereign Wealth Fund as this is still domiciled with the CBN, whereas the Ministry of Finance does not regard it as part of the distributable Excess Crude Account.”
ACN is myopic
The perception of the Finance Minister has been reiterated by the Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe who in a statement described the claim by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) that the nation’s economy is in danger of collapse as lacking in substance and runs contrary to the verdicts of reputable international rating agencies who have consistently upgraded the country’s economic ratings in the last one and a half years. The statement signed by Mr Okupe reads “For a fact, there are incidents of crude oil theft which had existed for several decades before this administration came on board. However, the truth is that this is currently being tackled through proactive steps by the government. The opposition is most probably aware of the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan recently secured the co-operation of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and French President on measures to prevent refineries in Europe from buying crude oil stolen from Nigeria.”
“Similarly, the Jonathan administration has provided more and better surveillance boats for the Nigerian Navy to enhance patrol of our coastal waters. This has resulted in arrest of several vessels engaged in oil theft and these were well reported in the Nigerian print and electronic media.”
Mr Okupe drew the attention of the opposition political party to the Petroleum Industry Bill currently before the National Assembly which it says was conceived by President Jonathan to provide for best practice processes for acreage availability, bidding and awards and therefore address the problems of dwindling oil and gas exploratory opportunities, and corruption among other problems in the sector.
“One wonders if the ACN would have ignored the ratings by FITCH, STANDARD & POOR’S, MOODY’S and JP MORGAN if those bodies had turned in a negative verdict on the Nigerian economy. The only conclusion one can draw from this is that the opposition has once again chosen the myopic and jaundiced path of public policy analysis rather that base its assessment on verifiable, objective indices. Unfortunately, a matter as sensitive as a Nation’s economy ought not to be subjected to this fashion of blind politicking.”
While assuring Nigerians that the Federal Government remains committed to implementing sound economic policies and development of the Nation’s infrastructure, the presidency urged politicians to exhibit statesmanship in addressing issues of critical nature rather than seeking to score cheap points in desperate manner.
After a long wait, amidst threats by the National Assembly to override President Goodluck Jonathan on the 2013 Budget, the President on Tuesday signed the Appropriation Bill into law.
According to a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, the signing of the 2013 budget followed several consultations and an agreement between the Executive and the Legislature.
The statement reads in part: “President Jonathan wishes to reassure all Nigerians that the consultations have been in the best interest of the country, and in pursuit of understanding and mutual cooperation between both arms of government.
“As part of the understanding reached with its leadership, the observations of the executive arm of government about the Appropriation Bill as passed by the National Assembly will be further considered by the National Assembly through legislative action, to ensure effective and smooth implementation of the 2013 Appropriation Act in all aspects.
“The administration remains fully committed to the positive transformation of the country, and effective and efficient service delivery for the benefit of all citizens.
“All Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government have, therefore, been directed to work very hard to ensure that all the services, projects and programmes contained in the budget are successfully delivered on schedule in spite of the slight delay in its enactment.” President Jonathan was initially reluctant about assenting to the budget which was forwarded to him on January 14 following claims that the National Assembly increased the budget by moving allocations from Ministries, Departments and Agencies to fund constituency projects.
President Jonathan was also alleged to have, based on the promptings of a senior minister, insisted that corrections on the budget be made in details before his assent.
Besides, the President had at a meeting with the National Assembly leadership raised the issue of the oil benchmark and the non- provision of funds for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on account of the retention of Arunma Oteh as Director-General of the Commission. The National Assembly leadership had politely declined the request on Ms Oteh and the benchmark, saying that the two issues were non-negotiable but agreed to look again at the mistakes in the details of the budget.
Legislators from the opposition parties had given their intention to initiate moves to override a veto if the President refused to give his assent to the budget by February 13 which made it 30 days after the budget was forwarded to him.