By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
The Presidency at the weekend explained the reason behind the upward review of the 2020 budget, saying it was premised on the need to tailor funds to address critical infrastructure gap and the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, Friday, signed the Appropriation (Repeal and Amendment) Act, 2020 of N10.8 trillion, which has N216 billion higher than what was initially proposed in the 2020 Appropriation Act. into law.
Speaking to State House correspondents on why the revision was made, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives) Umar el-Yakub, said the budget was raised to N10.8 trillion after certain realities were considered.
He pointed out that whereas the initial 2020 budget was benchmarked on $25 dollars per barrel of crude oil, the revised one had $28, which gave a bit of increased revenue.
According to him, “Some parameters were looked at, in any event, the 2020 budget was benchmarked at $25 per barrel of crude oil while the new amended budget is at $28 per barrel.
“So because of that, you can see there is a bit of an increase in revenue and thank God also the price of oil from then even though the initial benchmark was at 53, there has been a leap recently in the price of oil and even though the production benchmark was reduced from 1.9 million barrels to 1.8 million barrels per day.
“But certainly because of the increment in projections as far as the cost of oil is concerned, some monies were realized and projected to be realized.
“In addition to that, one needs to understand that the whole essence of the review is to prioritize government projects to the extent that projects that it will certainly address infrastructure and ginger the economy more as well as address health issues, concerns because of the pandemic.
“Investments are made in those regards and certainly you know that there are palliatives that had been initiated by the federal government in the phases of implementation.
“All those necessitated these new look at the budget, so as to free certain amounts of money hitherto appropriated for certain projects which in the circumstances are not as expedient to prioritize those but looked at other infrastructure that needs prioritisation so as to address the pandemic and the difficulties that it has brought to the lives of Nigerians.
“So to address those issues that was why the budget was looked at and amended.”
el-Yakub also spoke on the relationship between Executive and the 9th National Assembly, saying that it is a demonstration of the commitment of both sides to serve the people.
It will be recalled that some people have described the current leadership of the 9th National Assembly as rubber stamps and Alleluia boys for the Presidency.
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But the Presidential aide in his defence of the cordial relationship said, “The secret is in the commitment on both the side of the federal government under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to serve the Nigerian people and also the commitment on behalf of the legislators in the National Assembly to live up to expectations and their call to duty to serve the Nigerian people as well.
“So it’s a relationship that is based on mutual understanding, respect and also the partnership in nation building. It’s indeed a relationship that is predicated on service.
“So the executive arm of government has always partnered with the membership of the National Assembly especially the 9th Assembly as demonstrated by their actions in terms of expeditious passages of bills as well as screening of nominees of Mr President for various appointments.
“I believe Nigerians voted members of the National Assembly to represent their interest and to work for their betterment as well as as to make laws that will be for the good governance.
“And order for the country and in order to ensure that happens, the National Assembly certainly needs the executive arm of government because it is indeed the the arm that implements those laws that have been passed by the National Assembly.”
“The signing of the 2020 repeal and amendments bill is one of those the National Assembly looked at expeditiously because it is an amendment that was necessitated by the circumstances of the moment ie the pandemic, which also caused a serious strain on the economy in terms of the revenue that are generated as well as other benchmarking indices.
“So to that extent, you find out that the National Assembly are rising to the expectations of Nigerians partnering with the Executive to deliver on services to the Nigerian people and for me that is a responsibility, that is partnering in nation-building and indeed that is what they have been elected to do.”