From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday signed the 2021 Appropriation Act, 10 days after both chambers of the National Assembly passed the N13.5 trillion budget and three days after it was transmitted to him for assent.
The President appended his signature to the document at a ceremony inside the council chamber of the presidential villa, Abuja.
The National Assembly had on December 21, 2020, passed the 2021 Appropriation Bill with an aggregate expenditure of N13,588,027,886,175 trillion.
It comprises total Capital Supplementation of N1,060,751,051,650 and total Capital Expenditure of N4,125,149,354,222, Statutory Transfer stands at N496,528,471,273; recurrent Expenditure of N5,641,970,060,680 and Gross Domestic Product, GDP growth rate of 3.00 per cent.
The National Assembly also provided the sum of N3,324,380,000 trillion for debt servicing.
The lawmakers increased the budget estimate by the sum of N505, 607,317,942 from the estimate of N13,082,420, 568,233 presented to the joint sitting of National Assembly by President Buhari on October 8, 2020.
He tagged it the budget of economic recovery and resilience, saying it is critical for the legacy of his administration in ensuring security, economic growth, and implementing health and emergency measures to counter the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The president also promised that the budget will address the challenges brought about by the pandemic on the economy.
On revenue generation, Buhari warned heads of revenue-generating agencies to remit early and threatened sanctions for defaulters.
President Buhari hinted that he will soon send a borrowing plan to the National Assembly since the 2021 budget has a deficit, while also revealing that in view of the amendments made to the executive proposals by the lawmakers, he will revert to them for amendments, virements or other necessary adjustments.
He added: ‘Being a deficit budget, the specific Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly. I count on the co-operation of the National Assembly for quick consideration and approval of the Plan when submitted. I assure you that all borrowings will be judiciously applied towards growth-enhancing critical expenditures.’
He further stated: ‘I am aware of the changes that the National Assembly has made to the 2021 Executive Budget proposal. We will examine these amendments and, where necessary, will revert to the National Assembly with a request for amendment, virement or other appropriate adjustments to ensure that the core objectives of the Budget are accomplished.’
The President explained that in designing the 2021 Budget, his administration deliberately chose to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy.
He said: ‘As you are all aware, our economy recently lapsed into its second recession in four years. I mentioned during the presentation of the 2021 Appropriation Bill that we intend to use the Budget to accelerate our economic recovery process, promote social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy.
‘In spite of the adverse impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the nation’s economy and the Government’s revenues, we have made appreciable progress in the implementation of the 2020 Budget. As at December 2020, we had released about N1.748 trillion out of a total of the N1.962 trillion voted for the implementation of critical capital projects, representing a performance of about 89.1 per cent.’
President Buhari said it was commendable that the overall performance of the 2020 Budget currently stands at an impressive rate of 97.7 per cent.
He said: ‘This commendable outcome underscores the importance of our efforts, together with the Legislature, to return to the discipline of a January-to December fiscal year. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will provide further details on the 2020 Budget’s performance, in due course.’
He said: ‘The 2021 Budget is very critical to the delivery of the legacy projects of our Administration. To fully achieve our objectives, the effective implementation of the 2021 Budget is imperative.
‘Therefore, I have directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning should adopt all necessary measures in this regard to achieve the objectives of the Budget, including the targeted release of capital votes.
‘During the year, I expect that we would be able to significantly reduce the adverse impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the cost and availability of basic food items, as well as other key commodities, in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders.
‘I also expect that the 2021 Budget will stimulate domestic economic activities and create employment opportunities, especially for our youth.
‘We are intensifying our domestic revenue mobilisation efforts so that we can have adequate resources to fund the 2021 Budget. Revenue Generating Agencies, and indeed all Ministries, Departments and Government Owned Enterprises, must work very hard to achieve their revenue targets, control their cost-to-revenue ratios, as well as ensure prompt and full remittance of revenue collections.
‘Relevant Agencies are to ensure the realisation of our crude oil production and export targets. Heads of defaulting Agencies are hereby warned that they will be severely sanctioned. I also appeal to our fellow citizens and the business community, at large, to fulfil their tax obligations promptly.
‘Being a deficit budget, the specific Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly. I count on the co-operation of the National Assembly for quick consideration and approval of the Plan when submitted. I assure you that all borrowings will be judiciously applied towards growth-enhancing critical expenditures.
‘I am also directing all relevant agencies of Government to scale-up budget implementation monitoring and evaluation efforts.
In this regard, we continue to count on the support of Civil Society Organisations and the general public, at large.
‘As a nation, we are currently confronted with diverse challenges at this time. I commend the understanding, sacrifice and resilience of our people, both young and old. I assure everyone that our hope and confidence of a greater future shall not be in vain.
‘Let me conclude by commending the National Assembly, once again, for the steady support in safely steering our economy during these very challenging times. I remain committed to sustaining the partnership with the Legislature to jointly deliver on our mandate from our people.’
Speaking on the specific borrowing plans to be forwarded to the National Assembly and the use of over N3 trillion to service debts, both the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Fem Gbahabiamila, both urged Nigerians to focus on what the loans are used for.
They both stated that borrowing is a natural option when revenue is low and assured Nigerians that the National Assembly will ensure all monies borrowed must be used for the capital projects they are slated for.
The ceremony was also witnessed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) Mr Boss Mustapha; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Mrs Zainab Ahmed, among others.