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Provisions For 2023 Elections, Transition Programme Have Been Made – Buhari

On Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari claimed that the budget for 2023 had sufficient funding to ensure the smooth running of the upcoming general elections and the transition plan.

At the Presidential Villa in Abuja, where he signed the 2023 Appropriation Bill for N21.83 trillion and the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Bill into law.

In his budget proposal for 2023, which included N770.72 billion for new projects, he accused the National Assembly of adding new projects.

The President added that N58.55 billion had been added to the MDAs’ provisions by the national legislative assembly.

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The President said the overall expenditures of N21.83 trillion, which are a rise of N1.32 trillion over the initial Executive Proposal for a total expenditure of N20.51 trillion, represent the eighth and last yearly budget signed by this Administration.

The 2022 Supplementary Appropriations Act, according to the President, will give the government the ability to address the damage that the most recent countrywide floods have wreaked on the infrastructure and agricultural sectors.

He stated that, as is customary, more information about the approved budget and the accompanying 2022 Finance Act will be provided later by the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning.

”We have examined the changes made by the National Assembly to the 2023 Executive Budget proposal.

”The amended fiscal framework for 2023 as approved by the National Assembly shows additional revenues of N765.79 billion and an unfunded deficit of N553.46 billion.

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”It is clear that the National Assembly and the executive need to capture some of the proposed additional revenue sources in the fiscal framework. This must be rectified.

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”I have also noted that the National Assembly introduced new projects into the 2023 budget proposal for which it has appropriated N770.72 billion. The National Assembly also increased the provisions made by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) by N58.55 billion.”

As another democratically elected administration is about to take office, Buhari said that his choice to sign the 2023 Appropriations Bill into law in its final form allowed for its immediate implementation.

Although he expressed hope that the National Assembly would work with the Executive branch of government on this matter, he gave the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning the task of engaging with the Legislature to review some of the adjustments made to the Executive budget proposal.

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He encouraged the National Assembly to reevaluate its stance on his proposal to securitize the unpaid Ways and Means of Balance at the Central Bank of Nigeria for the Federal Government (CBN).

”As I stated, the balance has accumulated over several years and represents funding provided by the CBN as lender of last resort to the government to enable it to meet obligations to lenders, as well as cover budgetary shortfalls in projected revenues and/or borrowings.

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”I have no intention to fetter the right of the National Assembly to interrogate the composition of this balance, which can still be done even after granting the requested approval.

”Failure to grant the securitization approval will however cost the government about N1.8 trillion in additional interest in 2023 given the differential between the applicable interest rates which is currently MPR plus 3% and the negotiated interest rate of 9% and a 40year repayment period on the securitised debt of the Ways and Means.”

President Buhari expressed gratitude to the National Assembly for approving his proposal for the 2022 capital budget’s validity date to be extended to March 31, 2023, in order to guarantee more efficient implementation of the budget.

The President instructed the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning to work toward the early release of the 2023 capital votes in order to support efforts to deliver important projects and public services as well as improve the living conditions of Nigerians. This will allow Ministries, Departments, and Agencies to begin the implementation of their capital projects in good time.

The President reiterated that the 2023 Budget was created to support fiscal sustainability, macroeconomic stability, and provide a smooth transition to the future Administration. It was also intended to support social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy.

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He assured that sufficient funding has been allocated in the budget to ensure the smooth running of the next general elections and the transition plan.

According to him, “As I mentioned during the presentation of the 2023 Appropriation Bill, the Budget was developed to promote fiscal sustainability, macroeconomic stability and ensure a smooth transition to the incoming Administration.

“The Budget was also designed to promote social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy. Adequate provisions have been made in the 2023 Budget for the successful conduct of the forth-coming general elections and the transition programme.”

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The President instructed MDAs and Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) to step up their revenue mobilization efforts, including making sure that all taxable entities and people pay any outstanding taxes, in order to meet the budget’s revenue goals.

The President stated that pertinent Agencies must maintain existing efforts toward the achievement of crude oil production and export targets in order to accomplish the desirable goals of the 2023 Budget.

”To augment available fiscal resources, MDAs are to accelerate the implementation of Public Private Partnership initiatives, especially those designed to fast-track the pace of our infrastructural development.

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”This, being a deficit budget, the associated Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly.

”I count on the cooperation of the National Assembly for a speedy consideration and approval of the Plan.”

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On the Finance Bill 2022, the President expressed regret that its review as passed by the National Assembly is yet to be finalized.

”This is because some of the changes made by the National Assembly need to be reviewed by the relevant agencies of government. I urge that this should be done speedily to enable me to assent into law,” he said.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and Senate President Ahmad Lawan were among those present when the budget was signed.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, and all renowned and honorable leaders and members of the National Assembly were praised by the President for the swift deliberation and passage of the appropriations bill.

”As I mentioned during the presentation of the 2023 Appropriation Bill, early passage of the budget proposal is critical to ensure effective delivery of our legacy projects, a smooth transition programme and effective take-off of the incoming Administration.

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”I appreciate the firm commitment of the 9th National Assembly to the restoration of a predictable January to December fiscal year, as well as the mutual understanding, collaboration and engagements between officials of the Executive and the Legislative arms of government.

”These have made the quick consideration and passage of our Fiscal bills possible over the last four years.”

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In order to assure its passage before the start of the fiscal year, the President expressed confidence that the following Administration will continue to send the annual appropriations measure to the National Assembly early.

”I firmly believe the next Administration will also sustain the current public financial management reform efforts, further improve the budgeting process, and particularly maintain the tradition of supporting its Appropriation Bills with Finance Bills designed to facilitate their implementation.

”To sustain and institutionalize the gains of the reforms, we must expedite action and conclude work on the Organic Budget Law for it to become operational before the end of this Administration.”

Acknowledging that ‘‘these are challenging times worldwide,’’ the President concluded his speech at the ceremony by expressing deep appreciation to Almighty God for His Grace, while commending the continuing resilience, understanding and sacrifice of Nigerians in the face of current economic challenges.

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”As this Administration draws to a close, we will accelerate the implementation of critical measures aimed at further improving the Nigerian business environment, enhancing the welfare of our people and ensuring sustainable economic growth over the medium- to long-term,” he said.

Afterward, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, reaffirmed that the National Assembly would seek to improve government funding and lower the rate of budget deficit.

“But that is not to say that, we should raise taxes that will be out of the roof to cause problems for our citizens. But I believe that as a National Assembly, in the next five months, we must be looking at increasing the funds available to the government and also ensuring that the deficit budget is minimized in the next assembly by the grace of God,” he said.

On his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila denied any act of padding or jerking the budget explaining that the lawmakers have done very well in meeting their constitutional mandate, as they don’t want to be seen as a “rubber stamp to the executive.”

“If you understand constitutional democracy, there are different layers of government and it’s called separation of powers. Ours is for us to receive proposals and that’s why they’re called proposals anywhere in the world.

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“The National Assembly has done very well in meeting its constitutional mandate. It takes all arms of government to be on board to give a true working document for the country. The executive did everything they could; and we have even a wider view, a bird’s eye view of what’s going on in all the agencies. And we have also complemented what the executive has done. It’s all for the good of the country and that’s what we’ve done.”

The National Assembly or the legislature now has the responsibility of compiling all of those recommendations and examining the situation in the various constituencies. We have ministries, departments, and agencies who come to talk to us during the budget defense, and we look at the realities on the ground and what they have available to them. And whether they are truly capable of carrying out their mandate in accordance with their ministries and agencies.

“It now behooves the National Assembly, where it dims to adjust figures, either downwards or upwards. And that’s exactly what we have done. The problem with the National Assembly is that you can’t win to lose. If you return the budget the exact way it is you’re called a rubber stamp. If you do what you’re supposed to do and adjust figures for the good of the country. You call it jacking up or inflation or padding,” Speaker said.

 

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