President Buhari signs 2020 Budget

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday signed the 2020 Appropriation Bill of N10.594 trillion into law.

The National Assembly had, on December 5, passed the 2020 Appropriation Bill into law, authorizing the federal government to spend over N10.594 trillion for next year.

This followed President Buhari’s presentation of the 2020 Budget estimates N10.33 trillion to a joint session of the National Assembly on October 8, 2019.

The passage of the budget and its signing within 2019 has returned Nigeria to the January to December Budget Cycle.

Speaking at the brief ceremony, which had Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, President of Senate, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila in attendance, President Buhari noted that there was an increase of N263.95 billion over the proposal he submitted to the legislature in October and informed them that there might be need for virement.

“The 2020 Budget passed by the National Assembly provides for aggregate expenditures of Ten-point-Five-Nine-Four Trillion Naira (N10.594 trillion), an increase of Two Hundred and Sixty-Three-point-Nine-Five Billion Naira (N263.95 billion) over the Executive’s Proposal that was submitted in October 2019.

“We have examined the adjustments and may revert to the National Assembly with a request for a virement or other relevant amendments.

“The Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will make a public presentation of the details of the approved budget.

“With today’s global oil market outlook and our strategic approach to revenue growth, we are optimistic that we will be able to finance the 2020 Budget.

“However, being a deficit budget, an appropriate 2020 – 2022 Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly, in due course.

“Mr. Senate President, Right Honourable Speaker, for this submission, I will once again count on your usual cooperation and support by ensuring quick consideration and approval of the Plan.

“To optimize the desired impact, I have directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and all Federal MDAs to ensure effective implementation of the 2020 Budget.”

President Buhari  thanked  leadership and members of the National Assembly for passing “the 2020 Appropriation Bill, expeditiously.”

He said the National Assembly commitment to the interest of Nigerians and the Nigerian economy by working long hours to ensure detailed legislative review and passage of the budget within two months.

“This patriotic zeal adopted by the Ninth National Assembly has restored our budget cycle to a predictable January to December fiscal year.

“Furthermore, in the twenty years since the return to civilian democracy, this will be just the fourth time that the Federal Budget was passed before the end of the previous year, and this is the earliest.

“The passage of the Finance Bill, which I am told will be done in the coming days, will also be a landmark achievement worthy of recognition, being the first time, this has been done in the last twenty years.

“We look forward to receiving this Bill, shortly, for Presidential Assent. Once passed into law, the Finance Bill will support the funding and implementation of the 2020 Budget.

“We shall sustain this tradition by ensuring that subsequent budgets are also accompanied by a Finance Bill.”

The President also thanked the Ninth National Assembly for supporting important legislations such as the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Amendment Act and the 2019 Finance Bill.

“These laws are vital to the successful implementation of the 2020 Budget.

“I am aware of the regular high-level discussions that took place, between senior officials of the Executive and the Legislature during this period.

“I commend this renewed partnership, the mutual understanding as well as collaboration between these two arms of government.

“Now, we are well positioned to effectively implement the budget and deliver our promises to Nigerians. Businesses will also benefit as they are now in a position to plan more effectively.

“We have to sustain this harmonious working relationship. I expect that, going forward, this will be the norm.”

President Buhari said he has directed that efforts be made to ensure the presentation of the 2021 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly in September 2020.

“I will work with the Ninth National Assembly to give effect to the constitutional, legislative and other actions that may be necessary to address the various challenges currently associated with our federal budgeting process, including the enactment of an Organic Budget Bill,” the president said.

Speaking to State House correspondents after the signing of the budget into law, Lawan expressed hope that the Nigerian economy would receive a boost from the implementation of the 2020 budget.

Lawan said that the passage of Finance Bill and the Amendment to the Production Sharing Contracts would provide more revenue to government that would bear on the implementation of the budget.

“In fact, in 2019, N350 billion was earmarked but we couldn’t get anything. Next year by the grace of God because of the amendment, we are going to get close to $2 billion and that is going to be a mark difference from what it used to be.

“So we are going to work on revenue generation, collection and remittance. Once we are able to get our revenues, we are all determined on both sides to ensure that the budget 2020 is implemented fully and we believe the Nigerian public will be in support of this.”