…Says economy signalling gradual recovery
Abuja—Barely a few hours after receiving the nod from President Muhammadu Buhari, Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, signed the 2017Appropriation Bill into law.
Prof Osinbajo signed the budget at about 4:40 p.m. inside his conference room in the presence of the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari; Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; ministers and other top government officials, with the final figure of N 7.44 trillion presented by the National Assembly.
The acting President, who described the budget signing as a milestone in the implementation of the economic and growth plan programme put in place by President Buhari in April, also noted that it had fewer errors than that of last year.
He said: “A few minutes ago, I signed the 2017 Appropriations Bill into law. This is an important milestone in our economic recovery and growth plan laid in April by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I would like to express my appreciation to the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as the entire leadership and members of the National Assembly for completing work on the 2017 Appropriation Bill. And I will return to this point presently.
“The process of preparing and processing this Bill was much smoother than the 2016 Appropriation Bill. On the executive side, there were no allegations of errors, or mistakes, and there was a significant improvement in the quality of the preparation, as well as the presentation.
“I wish to commend the Ministry of Budget and Planning for such a remarkable improvement over a single budget cycle.
“On the side of the National Assembly, I wish to commend the collaborative spirit of the engagements our MDAs had with their various committees, and with the leadership, during the budget defence sessions. There were far fewer reported cases of acrimony, or hostile wrangling this year, than in the past.
“From the reports we received, the sessions were generally conducted in a friendly atmosphere. There is no doubt that our democracy is maturing.
“However, the final presentation and the signing of the budget has been considerably delayed. This was largely due to disagreements we had about the changes introduced to our 2017 budget proposals by the National Assembly.
“The executive took the view that the changes fundamentally affected some of our priority programmes and would make implementation extremely difficult and in some cases impossible.
“I am also pleased to mention that, in our discussions with the leadership of the National Assembly, we have jointly resolved to return to a predictable January to December fiscal year.
“It is a particularly important development because this accords with the financial year of most private sector companies, underscoring the crucial relationship between government and the private sector.
“Therefore, on the understanding that we will be submitting the 2018 budget to the National Assembly by October 2017, the leadership of the National Assembly has committed to working towards the passage of the 2018 budget into law before the end of 2017. I must, once more, express my appreciation to the leadership of the National Assembly, for the collaborative spirit in which these discussions were conducted.
“The 2017 budget, which I have signed into law today, is christened “Budget of Economic Recovery and Growth” and reflects our commitment to ensure strong linkage between the medium-term Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, recently launched by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, and the annual budgets.
Economy signalling gradual recovery
“It is designed to bring the Nigerian economy out of recession unto a path of sustainable and inclusive growth. The budget has a revenue projection of N5.08 trillion and an aggregate expenditure of N7.44 trillion. The projected fiscal deficit of N2.36 trillion is to be financed largely by borrowing.
“As you are all aware, our economy is already signalling a gradual recovery as growth is headed towards positive territory. First quarter GDP, at -0.52% compares favourably with -2.06% in the first quarter of 2016.
Inflation is declining – down to 17.24 per cent from 18.74 per cent as at May 2016. Our external reserves are now US$30.28 billion as at June 8, 2017 up from US$26.59 billion as at May 31, 2016.
“We are also gradually instilling confidence in our exchange rate regime. This improvement in GDP growth and other macro-economic indicators is largely attributable to our strategic implementation of the 2016 Budget as well as stronger macroeconomic management and policy coordination.
“I am confident that the 2017 budget will deliver positive economic growth and prosperity – one that is self-sustaining and inclusive. In this regard, the 2017 budget will be implemented in line with our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
5 key execution priorities
“Over the 2017-2020 plan period, we are focusing on five key execution priorities, namely: Stabilizing the macroeconomic environment; Agriculture and Food security;Energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products; Improved transportation infrastructure; and Industrialization through support for micro, small and medium-scale enterprises, MSMEs.
“The 2017 budget includes provisions that reflect these priorities. To demonstrate our commitment to following through our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, the 2017 budget allocates over N2 trillion to capital expenditure, principally infrastructure.
N200bn for transport infrastructure
“For instance, we are committing over N200 billion to improve transport infrastructure such as roads and rail; over N500 billion for investments in works, power, and housing; and N46 billion for Special Economic Zone Projects to be set up in each geopolitical zone.
“The signing of the budget today will trigger activities in the domestic economy, which will lead to job creation and more opportunities for employment, especially for our youths. And, as I indicated earlier, we will be returning to the National Assembly to seek upward adjustments by way of virements in relation to a number of critical projects which have received inadequate provision in the budget just passed by the National Assembly.
“We acknowledge that government alone cannot achieve the overarching goal of delivering inclusive growth; that is why the 2017 budget provides a lot of opportunities for partnerships with the private sector.”