Jonathan signs budget, vows to sack lobbyists

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By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief, Ben Agande & Bashir Adefaka
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday signed the 2012 federal government budget of N4.697 trillion and threatened to sack heads of Ministries, Departments and Parastatals that lobbied the National Assembly and got their budgets increased.

The Aggregate revenue estimate stood at N3.561 billion, leaving a budget deficit of about N1.136 trillion, representing 2.85 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP .

President Goodluck Jonathan signs the 2012 Appropriation Bill into Law Friday at the State House in Abuja.

The National Assembly had on the 15th of last month passed the 2012 Appropriation Bill of N4. 697trillion  which excluded the provision for the Subsidy Reinvestment, SURE, fund of N180 billion.

It was decided that the SURE fund should be outside the budget to enable the Nigerian public clearly to track its utilization.

His signing of the budget has cleared the rumoured fears that the budget passed by the National Assembly on March 15, 2012 may be sent back for further amendments.

On CEOs of MDAs who lobbied the NASS to increase their budgetary allocations, President Jonathan said those involved would be sacked to serve as deterrent  to others, as according to him, those involved in that practice were distorting the budget which cannot be allowed to continue.

On 2013 budget, the president said that steps had already been taken to ensure its early passage by  the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. She also  liaise with relevant agencies to ensure that the National Assembly receives the budgetary estimates between June and July this year, adding that the Early passage of the budget would enhance robust debate on the appropriation bill.

Capital budget stood at N1.34 trillion, representing 28.5 per cent of the total budget, recurrent budget took a whooping N3.356 trillion.

N372.59 billion was earmarked for statutory transfers.  The bodies that benefit from the transfers include the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the Niger Delta Development Commission, the National Assembly, as well as the Judiciary.

The trend of recurrent budget taking the lion share of the federal government budget continued as it accounted for 71. 5 per cent of the budget.  It was however an improvement over last year’s which stood at 74.4.

“This is in line with Government’s determination to correct the structural imbalance in our expenditure profile where recurrent spending has outstripped the growth of spending on capital projects in recent times”, the president said. According to him, “the revenue forecast was based on a Benchmark Oil Price of $72 per barrel,  $2 higher than the initial proposal of $70 per barrel.  “The additional resources were used to increase the capital and to reduce the deficit to a manageable level that we can be finance without excessive borrowing”, President Jonathan.

He explained that his budget would invest in areas that would translate the impressive growth rate in recent years to better standard of living for Nigerians. Specifically, he said that his government would invest in projects and programmes that could guarantee job creation for the nation’s teeming youth population.

His words, “The goal of achieving positive macroeconomic stability is no end in itself. The robust growth experienced in recent years needs to be translated into tangible and concrete improvement in the living standards of our people. In this respect, the Government is focused on investments in priority sectors in order to sustain economic growth and create jobs. The 2012 Budget is geared toward supporting economic growth and employment creation

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