Senate yesterday passed the 2020 budget, approving NIO.59 trillion as aggregate expenditure.The approved figure is N263.946 billion higher than the N10.330 trillion presented to National Assembly for consideration and approval by President Muhammadu Buhari in October.
A breakdown of the budget figure as approved by Senate indicates N560.4 billion for statutory transfers, N4.84 trillion for recurrent expenditure, capital expenditure provision of N2.46 trillion and N2.72 trillion for debt servicing.
Fiscal deficit of the budget is N2.28 trillion while the deficit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio is 1.52 per cent.
In the approved budget, defence got the highest vote for recurrent expenditure with N784,589 billion. It also got the highest vote of N116.181 billion for capital expenditure. Education sector got the second highest recurrent expenditure of N490.303 billion as well as N84.728 billion for capital expenditure.
Works and housing sector got the highest capital expenditure vote of N315.563 billion in addition to its N27.983 billion recurrent expenditure.
Key assumptions and parameters upon which the 2020 budget was based include crude oil production of 2.18 mbpd while the benchmark oil price is $57.
According to the budget document, GDP growth rate is projected at 2.93 per cent while inflation rate is put at 10.81 per cent.
The budget is also based on an exchange rate of N305 per United States dollar. When Mr Buhari presented the 2020 budget proposal to the joint session of National Assembly in October, he stated: “The expenditure estimate includes statutory transfers of N556.7 billion, non-debt recurrent expenditure of N4.88 trillion and N2.14 trillion for capital expenditure (excluding the capital component of statutory transfers).”
He had also proposed N2.45 trillion for debt service, and sinking fund to retire maturing bonds issued to local contractors was voted N296 billion.
Presenting a report to Senate earlier yesterday, chairman of the Appropriation Committee, Mr Barau Jibrin, disclosed that his panel worked harmoniously with the executive arm of government in the processing of the bill “which ensured the collaboration of the two arms in the utilization of additional revenue projections to fund/improve the funding of some critical projects which could not be adequately funded in the budget proposals submitted by Mr President due to constraints.”
“Consequently, the increase allowed for interventions in critical areas such as national security, road infrastructure, mines and steel development, health, social needs, and water. This is also in line with the budget thrust of the government which is sustainable growth and development,” Jibrin said.
Lawmakers took turns to advise the executive arm of government on the execution of the projects provided for in the budget.
Former Deputy President of Senate, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, drew attention to the ravaging problems of poverty and unemployment in the country, pointing out that the diligent execution of budgets would be helpful in resolving the challenges.
Mr Fatai Buhari (APC, Oyo State) stated: “We must take oversight duties very seriously to ensure that the gains recorded in passing this budget timely are actualized.” Mr Bassey Akpan (PDP, Akwa Ibom) said Buhari had no business to fail because “we passed this budget in time and we have amended all laws to ensure improved revenue base. So all the committees must go to work to ensure that revenues expected are realized.”
In House of Representatives, lawmakers also passed the 2020 budget to the tune of N10,594,362,364,830 trillion.The decision followed adoption of the report of appropriation committee submitted by the chairman, Mr Muktar Betara, at the plenary presided over by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.
Highlights of the bill showed an addition of over N260 billion to the N10.33 trillion proposed by President Buhari.
A breakdown of the bill shows that N560.47 billion is for statutory transfers, N2.72 trillion is for debt service, N4.84 trillion is for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure while N2.46 trillion is for contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure for the period starting 1st of January to 31st of December 2020.
Federal ministries of works and housing, power as well as agriculture and rural development and defence got the lion share of N315.56 billion, N129.08 billion, N124.39 billion and N116.18billion.
A further breakdown of the statutory transfers shows allocation of funds as follows: National Judicial Council N110 billion Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC) N80.8 billion and Universal Basic Education (UBE) N111.7 billion, National Assembly N128 billion, Public Complaints’ Commission N4.7 billion, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) N40 billion, National Human Rights Commission N2.5 billion, North East Development Commission N38. 49 billion, and Basic Health Care Fund N44.49billion.