Lagos-Calabar rail project in
N5,000 stipend for unemployed youth out
President Muhammadu Buhari finally signed the 2016 budget into law on Friday, May 6, with the controversial Lagos-Calabar coastal rail project being one of the major inclusions.
However, the much touted N5, 000 monthly stipend for one million unemployed graduates was not provided for in the budget. Besides, it was not clear whether provision was made for the Petroleum Support Fund, also known as ‘fuel subsidy’ in the budget.
Though details of the budget were scanty, Nigerian Pilot Saturday scooped from a member of the National Assembly that allocation to the National Assembly which is in the first line charge, was slashed. The initial allocation was N130 billion.
The budget, presented almost six months ago by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly, suffered subsequent controversies and delay following discovery of alleged duped copy of the original version.
Also, controversies erupted over alleged discrepancies in form of padding and other alarming issues that caused altercation between the Presidency and the National Assembly.
However, the long wait which had palpable adverse effect on Africa’s biggest economy, finally ended yesterday with the eventual signing that was witnessed by the leadership of the National Assembly, some ministers and the chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief John Oyegun-Odigie, among other principal officers of government at the Villa.
President Buhari admitted at the signing ceremony that Nigeria was, “experiencing probably the toughest economic times in the history of our nation” but was optimistic that the budget would meet the expectations of the yearning public.
“It is a great pleasure to sign the budget. It is a serious article of faith for the Nigerian people,” the president said at a ceremony attended by ministers, the Senate President and other officials.
“The signing of the budget today will trigger concerted efforts to reflate the Nigerian economy, a key element of which is an immediate injection of 350 billion naira into the economy by way of capital projects,” he said.
According to him, the government hopes to diversify the economy, produce more food, revive manufacturing and generate employment to help kick start growth.
Nigerian Pilot Saturday recalls that the federal government had on Wednesday disclosed that no fewer than 84 key projects including infrastructure development, which are badly needed: roads, housing and power supply, are the key targets of the budget.
Prior to the signing, it would be recalled that in April, the national assembly had transmitted details of the budget to the president after it had passed the bill on March 23.
But the president returned the document to the national assembly on the grounds that there were “grey areas” in it that needed to be sorted out.
The President insisted that certain essential details were missing and that until those details were clarified he would withhold his assent.
The legislature then constituted a 10-man committee to smooth out the contours and after a few weeks of legislative treatment, the final copy of the document was transmitted to the president on Thursday.
And on Friday, he signed it into law ahead of his trip to France.
In December, the budget proposal presented to a joint session of the national assembly by Buhari was N6.07trn. A total of N351bn was for statutory transfers, N2.8trn for recurrent expenditure and N1. 8trn for capital expenditure.
The legislature, based on the recommendation of its committees on appropriation, adopted $38 per barrel crude oil benchmark for the budget, as proposed by the federal government.
It also adopted a foreign exchange rate of N197 per dollar as proposed by the government.
It, however, reduced the total budget sum from N6.07trn to N6.06trn: N351bn for statutory transfers, N1.4trn for debt service, N2.6trn for recurrent expenditure, and N1.5trn as capital expenditure.
Deficit/GDP – 2.14 per cent
The parameters proposed by Mr. Buhari were retained.
Oil price benchmark and crude oil production were left at US38 per barrel and 2.2000mbpd respectively.
Similarly, the exchange was left at N197/USD1.
Tagged “Budget of Change,” President Buhari presented the 2016 Appropriation Bill to joint session of the National Assembly last December, proposing N6.08 trillion as aggregate expenditure, before it was reduced by the lawmakers to N6.06 trillion.