The Presidency, yesterday, gave an insight into why there was a delay in presentation of the 2019 Appropriation bill to a joint session of the National Assembly, saying that it was almost ready. Speaking with journalists in Abuja, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, said if the executive must present the budget proposals to the legislative arm, it would first take a cursory look at the overall performance of the 2018 budget that was approved.
According to Enang, before the presentation of the proposals to the lawmakers, the executive arm of government will have to take account of the level of the implementation of the 2018 budget as that would help guide what the government at the end of the day, would project for next year’s budget. It would be recalled that President Muhammudu Buhari had on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, presented a budget proposal of N8.612 trillion for the 2018 fiscal year, which represents 16 percent increase of the N7.298 trillion for 2017.
Speaking further, Senator Enang said: “We are not having a high turnover of rejected bills but we have a high number of considered bills. We have passed over 100 bills in the 8th Senate. “When President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the 2018 budget, he had reservations but after having the understanding with the legislature, he sent in amendments and asked for virement. That is still being awaited, it has not been done.
‘’He has also sent in the request for certain other funds for other agencies for virement which is still pending. ‘’He sent in requests for approval of external finances through euro bond and other windows. That was approved few weeks ago. They are in the process of raising money to fund the budget. “In presenting the 2019 budget, we would have to take account of the level of implementation of the 2018 budget, so we would know what we are going to project for next year’s budget. ‘’If the money you seek to realize to fund this year’s budget came a little bit behind the time you expected, you are expected to take care of a few of these things so that you know what to project for next year.
“The budget is almost ready. The President has transmitted to the National Assembly request for the approval of the MTEF and the approval of the Fiscal Strategy Paper. ‘’It is the MTEF that sets out the budget parameters for the benchmark of oil, the exchange rate, the money projected to realize from solid minerals, internal revenue from oil, and borrowings. ‘’ It is this that enables you to deal with budget projections. That document is pending before the legislature.
“Ordinarily, we should present it but we just felt that the legislature should first pass the MTEF/FSP so that we can use it as benchmark but since the legislature is still working on the document, we are going to use the parameters that were used in what we submitted as the budget benchmark of oil, exchange rate, the amount we are going to have as excess crude and other sources of revenue as submitted to prepare the budget.”