Acting President Osinbajo signs 2017 appropriation bill into law

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

Nigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has signed the 2017 Appropriation Bill of N7.44 trillion into law.

Osinbajo gave his accent to the bill on Monday at a brief ceremony attended by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and other principal officers of the National Assembly.

The Appropriation Act 2017 authorises the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation a total sum of about N7, 441, 175, 486, 758.00 as expenditure for the fiscal year.

Out of the figure, the N434,412, 952, 249.00 will be for statutory transfers  while N1, 841, 345, 727, 206 will be for debt service.

Also, the sum of N177, 460,296,707 will be for a sinking fund for maturing bonds while N2,987,550,33,436 will be for recurrent non debt expenditure.

The sum of 2, 177, 866, 775, 867, will be for contribution to development fund for capital expenditure, exclusive of expenditure from statutory transfers.

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.

Speaking after signing the budget, Osinbajo said the process of passing the 2017 Appropriation Bill was smoother than that of the previous and commended the National Assembly and the Ministry of Budget and Planning for the peaceful engagements that saw to the passage of the bill.

He said: “The process of preparing and processing this Bill was much smoother than the 2016 Appropriations 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.”

Delayed signing

Osinbajo noted that the signing of the budget was delayed because of engagements to resolve the increase introduced by the National Assembly.

He said the issue was resolved after the National Assembly agreed to “re-instate the budgetary allocations for all the important executive projects, such as the railway standard gauge projects, the Mambilla Power Project, the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway etc. which they had reduced to fund some of the new projects they introduced.”

According to the acting president, the re-instatement would be “by way of an application for virement by the Executive which they have agreed will be expeditiously considered and approved by the National Assembly”.

 

He said it was as a result of that understanding and the outcome of detailed engagements that he was able to sign the 2017 Appropriations Bill into law.

Fiscal Year

Professor Osinbajo said through engagements with the National Assembly, it was resolved that Nigeria would return to the January to December fiscal year, which is in line with the practice in the private sector, underscoring the relationship between the President Buhari administration and the private sector.

“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,” adding that the presidency “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.”

Osinbajo said the 2017 Budget, 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.”

“It is designed to bring the Nigerian economy out of recession unto a path of sustainable and inclusive growth,” he said.

He assured those who have expressed concern about the growing public debt that several actions were being taken to grow government revenues as well as plug revenue leakages.

Economic recovery

Osinbajo said the Nigerian economy was recovering, “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% from 18.74% 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,” the acting president said.

He expressed confidence that the 2017 Budget would deliver positive economic growth and prosperity “one that is self-sustaining and inclusive.”

Speaking to State House Correspondent after the Acting President signed the budget, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, commended the executive for the increase in capital expenditure.

He also said the emphasis on made-in-Nigeria good was also remarkable.

Nnenna.O