Why Buhari has not signed 2018 budget — Udoma

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The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, has given reasons President Muhammadu Buhari was yet to sign the Appropriation Bill recently transmitted to him by the National Assembly, disclosing that the President is carrying out a thorough review of the 2018 budget.

Newsworth recalls that on November 7, 2017, Buhari presented the N8.6 trillion “Budget of Consolidation” to a joint session of the National Assembly for consideration and approval of the Bill for signing into law.

The decision by the government to send in the budget proposal to the National Assembly a bit earlier than usual, Udoma said, was an attempt to return the country to the usual January to December budget cycle from this year.

But, after waiting for over seven months, the National Assembly on May 10 passed a revised version of the proposal, raising the overall budget outlay by over N508 billion.

From the initial proposal of over N8.6 trillion presented by the president, the lawmakers increased the budget to over N9.12 trillion, with a fiscal deficit of over N1.955 trillion or 1.73 percent to gross domestic product (GDP).

Since the submission of the revised budget, speculations have been rife that the presidency suspected the lawmakers may have adjusted the budget to accommodate new items not in the draft proposal.

Speaking with State House Correspondents at the Presidential Villa Abuja after meeting with Buhari on Monday, Udoma said, “the President is currently reviewing the budget and as you know, we have a minimum window of 30 days.

“The President is currently reviewing it and as soon as he is through, he will sign it. That is what l can tell you for now,” the minister added.

The 2018 appropriation bill, the largest in the nation’s history, was premised on key revenue assumptions of oil price benchmark of $51 (an increase of $6 above the $45 proposed by the Presidency); but retains 2.3 million barrels per day and exchange rate of N305/$1USD.

Sectors regarded as critical namely: Power, Works and Housing, Defence as well as Transportation got the highest capital allocation of N1.090 trillion out of total sum of N2.873 trillion in the 2018 budget.

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