Buhari, Cabinet Members to Deliberate on 2019 Budget Figures, Friday

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…May Forward Estimates to NASS Next Week

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, President Muhammadu Buhari may forward the 2019 budget estimates to the National Assembly next week.

The President is expected to preside over a special session of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Friday this week, where the entire cabinet members would deliberate on the draft 2019 Budget figures.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, who gave an inkling to the meeting on Wednesday, said the meeting would commence by 10am.

He explained that the FEC meeting is expected to put finishing touches to the Budget after which it will be forwarded as Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly for vetting.

He did not give details of the estimates or benchmarks contained in the draft copy of the bill to be tabled for deliberations by cabinet members.

However, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, had last month announced that the federal government was considering a leaner 2019 budget of N8.6 trillion, which is leaner than the N9.1 trillion approved by lawmakers for 2018.

Addressing a consultative forum on the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) and fiscal strategy paper (FSP) 2019-2021, the Minister said the decision was due to reduced government revenue projection for the year.

He also said government planned to cut down the level of borrowing from N1.6 trillion in 2018 to N1.5 trillion in 2019, while the deficit component would be reduced from N1.9 trillion in 2018 to N1.6 trillion.

Recall that the presidency had taken up the National Assembly for doctoring the 2018 budget estimates, accusing the leadership of introducing projects not contained in the original documents.

He had also alleged that the lawmakers weeded essential projects and inserted non-essential ones.

Buhari had also noted that he was compelled to append his signature to the budget owing to the timeframe it took the NASS to pass it.

“I am concerned about some of the changes that the National Assembly has made to the budget proposals that I presented,” he said.

“Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation. Some of the new projects inserted by the National Assembly have not been properly conceptualized, designed and costed and will therefore be difficult to execute,” he had stated.

While lamenting the distortions, Buhari had said many of the new projects introduced by the National Assembly have been added to the budgets of most MDAs with no consideration for institutional capacity to execute them or the incremental recurrent expenditure that may be required.

He had also noted that some of the projects related to matters that are the responsibility of the States and Local Governments, and for which the Federal Government should therefore not be unduly burdened.

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