The Federal Government on Wednesday said the National Assembly was delaying the presentation of the estimates of the 2019 budget to the legislature.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udo-Udoma, stated this at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja.
Udo-Udoma, who spoke with State House correspondents, said everything else was ready but the approval of a presentation date by the National Assembly.
He claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari was ready with the budget and would present the estimates whenever was asked to do so by the National Assembly.
Ironically, it was only on Friday last week that FEC approved the proposals of the N8.73tn budget for 2019.
Udo-Udoma said, “As you already know, the budget is ready.
“We are liaising with the National Assembly because they are to give us a date.
“If they say today, we will go. The budget is ready.”
But, when Punch contacted the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, for his reaction, he said there was no deliberate delay by the National Assembly.
Gbajabiamila, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Lagos State, explained that the National Assembly had much work on its hands and would look into the issue of the budget next week.
He stated, “We are tidying up several issues. Hopefully, the presentation (of the budget) will be this coming week.”
Asked why the National Assembly had not fixed a date for budget laying, Minority Leader of the Senate, Senator Biodun Olujimi, dismissed Udoma’s claim as untrue.
The Peoples Democratic Party lawmaker said, “That is not true. The National Assembly has never written them to come and present the budget. There is a process, which is that when they are ready, they will just have an informal discussion with the National Assembly leadership and they (Presidency) will write a letter that the President will be coming to present the budget. That has always been the process and that has not happened.
“There is a procedure which is not dependent on the National Assembly, it is dependent on the executive.”
Recall that a special session of FEC presided over by Buhari on Friday last week approved the proposals.
Udo-Udoma, who briefed reporters after the special meeting, did not give details of the proposals.
However, ahead of the special FEC meeting, the government already disclosed that next year’s budget would be N8.7tn, a drop in the N9.12tn approved for 2018.
The 2019-2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper already laid before the National Assembly contains N8.7tn as the budget size for 2019.
Earlier on October 24, FEC approved the MTEF.
The minister had stated that the government expected a reduction in revenue in 2019 and opted to plan in line with the revenue in view.
For instance, he said government’s borrowing would reduce from N1.6tn in 2018 to N1.5tn in 2019.
As for the deficit, the minister said it would be cut down to N1.6tn in 2019 from the N1.9tn budgeted in 2018.
The government also put the daily oil production figure at 2.3 million barrels.
Speaking further on the outcome of Wednesday’s FEC meeting, the minister said the session was happy with the recovery of the economy from recession, following a report he presented to the members.
Udo-Udoma added, “The report indicates that the economy, when measured by real GDP, grew at 1.81 per cent in the third quarter of 2018, compared to 1.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2018.
“FEC was particularly encouraged to note that economic growth continues to be driven by the non-oil sector, which grew by 3.32 per cent in the third quarter.
“This has been the strongest growth in non-oil GDP in 12 consecutive quarters since the fourth quarter of 2015.
“By economic activity, non-oil growth was driven by transportation, electricity, telecommunication, metal oils, quarry and so on. In addition, agriculture and manufacturing sectors also grew, agriculture by 1.91 per cent; manufacturing by 1.92 per cent. These are stronger growth than in the second quarter.
“So overall, council mostly is encouraged by these results that improvement in the economy. It also means that our plans are working and equally shows that we need to intensify our economy and keep fit with our reforms.”
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, who spoke on the contracts awarded for the protection of the country’s waterways, said six contractors were engaged to do the job at the cost of N7.1bn.
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