President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2019 budget proposal to a joint session of the National Assembly (NASS) on Wednesday in Abuja.
The Renaissance reports that a total of N8.83 trillion was proposed as 2019 budget as against N9.2 trillion budgetted in 2018.
The breakdown shows that Recurrent expenditure accounts for N4.04 trillion, N2.14 trillion went to debt servicing, statutory transfer N492.36 billion, Sinking fund – N120 billion and Capital expenditure to gulp N2.031 trillion
The 2019 budget has been prepared on the assumptions of $60 per barrel of oil, 2.3 million barrels per day, N305 to $1 exchange rate, Real GDP growth of 3.01 per cent and the Inflation rate of 9.98 per cent.
Buhari was accompanied to the National Assembly by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and members of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, on Wednesday.
Loud ovation and encomiums heralded Buhari’s arrival to the joint session with shouts of “Sai Baba’’ as he waved to the crowd.
Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara jointly presided over the joint session, with Saraki introducing the ceremony.
The budget presentation was been preceded by a mild drama with the ongoing four days warning strike by members of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria.
The strike started on Monday with .workers arriving early at the National Assembly, blocking the main entrance and preventing the normal day’s activities.
The leadership of the National Assembly in a swift reaction asked the Nigeria Police and State Security Services (SSS) to secure the legislative premises for Tuesday’s plenary.
With the police carrying out the order, plenaries held at both chambers on Tuesday but the workers still vowed to continue the strike.
President Buhari, in his speech, addressed the issue of budget inflation, which set the executive against the legislature in the 2018 budget process.
Security has been increased at the National Assembly premises while the lawmakers await the arrival of the president.
He said the federal government and the National Economic Council were working to forestall the lingering farmers/herders crisis.
The President saluted the armed forces for their service in battling the insurgency in the north-east.
He said the Gross Domestic Product(GDP) has increased from 1.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 to 1.81 per cent in the third quarter of 2018.
He said the foreign reserve has increased from $20.57 billion in May 2016 to $42.92 billion in December 2018.
He said inflation rate has dropped to 11.28 per cent in November 2018 from 18.72 in January 2017.
These, he said, have contributed to exchange rate stability.
“We simply prioritised the completion of ongoing projects over the introduction of new ones.
“Over a hundred of these projects have been completed.
“In every state in Nigeria, today there is a major road under construction.
“In the railway sector, we completed the Abuja-Kaduna rail line and the Abuja metropolis rail line. The Ajaokuta-Itakpe and Lagos-Kano rail line are on course.
“A significant progress has been made on the Lagos-Ibadan part of the project.”
President Buhari said his government has awarded the contract to dualise the Mokwa-Jebba road.
He highlighted other road projects his government is working on.
On power, the President said a good number of projects are ongoing in the country.
“As a government, we took a long-term view of tracking the effect of climate change. In the last two years, we have planted over 2.3 billion seedlings in 21 states.
“Half a million graduates have been employed under the N-power scheme.
“Over 297,000 people from 26 states are benefiting from the conditional fund transfer programme of the government.”
According to him, all recovered looted assets will be liquidated to help in funding the 2019 budget.
“In order to put to use for benefit of all Nigerians, monies and assets stolen from the public treasury, the 2019 budget created a revenue line for monies recovered.
“ Of the N9.2 trillion budget in 2018, N4.59 trillion has been spent as at Sept. 30 as against the N6.84 trillion target.
“Other items not actualised in the budget have been rolled over to 2019,” Buhari said.
By Oluwashina Iyanda