By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Ministries, Department and Agencies will be given 50 percent of their capital allocation by the end of the month.
President Buhari stated this on Friday when he signed the Appropriation (Repeal and Amendment) Act, 2020 into law at the Council Chamber, Presidential villa, Abuja.
Speaking at the event, the President said the 2020 budget of N10.8 trillion budget had to be revised because of the effects of coronavirus on the nation’s economy.
The revised budget passed last month by the National Assembly is N216 billion more than the l expenditure initially proposed in the 2020 Appropriation Act.
It was initially passed in December 2019 but was returned to the legislature after the executive reworked it to reflect the current economic realities occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.
At the brief ceremony were Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha; and the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
Others were the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emiefile, Director General Budget, Ben Akabueze; Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Babajide Omoworare and his counterpart for House of Representatives, Hon. Umar el-Yakub. While thanking the National Assembly for the prompt review and passage of the amendments to the 2020 Appropriation Act, President Buhari recalled that he signed the 2020 Appropriation Act into law on Tuesday, 17th December 2019.
He said, “However, it became necessary to revise the Appropriation Act 2020 in response to recent developments, in particular, the COVID-19 Pandemic. Crude oil prices in the world market declined sharply from a high of $72.20 per barrel in January 2020 to below $20 per barrel in April 2020, and have since remained around $40 per barrel.
“Nigeria’s crude oil production quota has been reduced as part of the efforts of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to strengthen the oil market. Global trade has generally been disrupted as almost all economies were locked down for protracted periods in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“All these developments are plunging the global economy into recession, and Nigeria has not escaped the impact of this. In effect, the assumptions underlying the 2020 Appropriation Act are no longer sustainable.
“It is therefore imperative to adjust our expected revenues, considering the widespread disruptions in domestic and international economic activities due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the containment measures taken in response thereto.
“Understandably too, we needed to reallocate resources in the Appropriation (Repeal and Amendment) Act, 2020 to ensure effective implementation of required health and emergency measures, as well as to mitigate the negative socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
The president said the 2020 Amended Budget under-scores his administration’s firm commitment to effectively contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the lives and livelihood of our people.
According to him, “With these budget amendments, as well as our recently launched N2.3 trillion Stimulus Programme, we are well-positioned to safeguard the economy.”
President Buhari directed that efforts be made to ensure effective implementation of the budget to realise its laudable objectives, considering recent budget implementation challenges.
He also directed that all Ministers are to ensure that their Ministries, Departments and Agencies intensify capital project delivery efforts and fully cooperate with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to achieve the laudable objectives of the Budget.
He affirmed that govern-ment has made some progress in the implementation of the Appropriation Act 2020, noting that as at 31st May 2020, the sum of N253.33 billion has been released for the implementation of capital projects.
Buhari revealed that the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is in the process of effecting budgetary releases that will ensure that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies receive at least 50 per cent of their amended capital budgets by the end of this month.
He said, “The Appropriation (Repeal and Amendment) Act, 2020, that I have just signed into law, provides for aggregate expenditures of N10.81 trillion, which is an increase of N216 billion over the level of expenditure initially proposed in the 2020 Appropriation Act.”
The president thanked all Nigerians for “their understanding and unflinching support, especially during these difficult times.” Speaking to State House correspondents, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the National Assembly had to pass the revised budget without delay, in order to ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said, “The significance of that is to tell you that the National Assembly has worked with the Executive arm of government to get this document put together as it was required of us and today the President signed, as you’ve witnessed, and that means that we have implemented the Appropriation 2020 Act up to the end of May.”