President Muhammadu Buhari at 3:37pm on Tuesday, signed the 2020 Appropriation Bill into law, thereby restoring Nigeria to the January to December budget circle.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha; and the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed as well as other principal officers of the National Assembly and presidential aides.
The President in his remark at the occasion, commended the patriotic zeal of the National Assembly for the quick passage of the budget.
He hinted that he may revert to the National Assembly with a request for a Virement or other relevant amendments following the increase of the budget from N10.33 trillion as proposed by the Executive to N10.6 trillion (10,594,362,364,830).
Buhari further stated that being a deficit budget, an appropriate 2020 – 2022 Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly, in due course.
He added that to optimise the desired impact, he has directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and all Federal MDAs to ensure effective implementation of the budget.
He noted that with today’s global oil market outlook and his administration’s strategic approach to revenue growth, there was optimism that government will be able to finance the 2020 Budget.
He said: “However, being a deficit budget, an appropriate 2020 – 2022 Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly, in due course.”
In view of this, the President directed that the 2021 budget estimates be submitted to the National Assembly by September next year.
He appealed to the National Assembly for cooperation and support in the speedy passage of the borrowing plan.
Buhari described as “pleasant” coincidence his signing the budget on his 77th birthday, thanking the leadership of the National Assembly and members for attending to the 2020 Appropriation Bill expeditiously.
This was as the Senate on Tuesday referred President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing Plan request to its Committee on Local and Foreign Debts.
The President’s request was forwarded to the Committee for further legislative work following its presentation by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, during plenary.
The Committee has Senator Clifford Ordia (PDP, Edo Central) as Chairman and Senator Bima Mohammed Enagi (APC, Niger South) as Vice Chairman.
President Buhari had in a letter dated November 26, 2019, said the Eighth National Assembly approved only a part of the External Borrowing request forwarded to it in September 2016.
This, according to him, stalled the Federal Government’s implementation of critical projects spanning across the mining, power, health, agricultural, water and educational sectors.
The letter read: “Pursuant to Section 21 and 27 of the Debt Management Office (Establishment) Act, I hereby request for Resolutions of the Senate to approve the Federal Government’s 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing plan, as well as relevant projects under this plan.
“Furthermore, in the twenty years since the return to civilian democracy, this will be just the fourth time that the Federal Budget was passed before the end of the previous year, and this is the earliest.
“The passage of the Finance Bill, which I am told will be done in the coming days, will also be a landmark achievement worthy of recognition, being the first time, this has been done in the last twenty years.
“We look forward to receiving this Bill, shortly, for Presidential Assent. Once passed into law, the Finance Bill will support the funding and implementation of the 2020 Budget. We shall sustain this tradition by ensuring that subsequent budgets are also accompanied by a Finance Bill.
“I equally thank the Ninth National Assembly for supporting important legislations such as the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Amendment Act and the 2019 Finance Bill. These laws are vital to the successful implementation of the 2020 Budget.
“I am aware of the regular high-level discussions that took place, between senior officials of the Executive and the Legislature during this period. I commend this renewed partnership, the mutual understanding as well as collaboration between these two arms of government.
“Now, we are well positioned to effectively implement the budget and deliver our promises to Nigerians. Businesses will also benefit as they are now in a position to plan more effectively.
“We have to sustain this harmonious working relationship. I expect that, going forward, this will be the norm.
“I have directed that efforts be made to ensure the presentation of the 2021 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly in September 2020. I am confident that all Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies will cooperate with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to keep to this timeline.
Meanwhile, the nation’s Organised Private Sector (OPS) yesterday said early passage of the 2020 Budget will reduce the uncertainty that has bedevilled the economy over the years.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) while reacting to the signing of the Budget by President Muhammadu Buhari, noted that the timely signing of the Budget was laudable.
The LCCI Director General, Muda Yusuf, said the budget coming early will equally impact positively on its implementation and the timely delivery of the expected outcomes from the budget.
He said, “Secondly, it will reduce uncertainty experienced by the stakeholders, in the past whio were especially impacted directly by the budget.”
He stressed that there is no doubt that the passage will make planning easier for relevant private sector and public sector stakeholders in their budget process, adding that members of the OPS only hope the return to January-December budget Cycle will be sustained.
The LCCI boss however expressed reservation on the success of the Budget in terms of funding, emphasising that revenue constraints remain a major factor in the implementation.