From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, signed the 2021 Appropriation Act into law.
He appended his signature to the document at a ceremony at the council chamber of the presidential villa, Abuja, 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.
It comprises total capital supplementation of N1,060,751,051,650; capital expenditure of N4,125,149,354,222; statutory transfer, N496,528,471,273; recurrent expenditure, 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 N505, 607,317,942 from the N13,082,420, 568,233 presented to the joint sitting of National Assembly on October 8, 2020.
Buhari tagged the document ‘Budget of economic recovery and resilience’ saying it was critical for the legacy of his administration in ensuring security, economic growth and implementing health and emergency measures to counter the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the 2021 budget was critical to the delivery of the legacy projects of his administration and urged the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to adopt all necessary measures to achieve the objectives, including the targeted release of capital votes. The president also promised that the budget would 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 on defaulters.
He said he would send a borrowing plan to the National Assembly since the 2021 budget was premised on deficit while also revealing that in view of the amendments made to the executive proposals by the lawmakers, he would revert to them for amendments, virememts or other necessary adjustments.
“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 a 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 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.”
He explained that in designing the 2021 budget, his administration deliberately chose to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy.
“As you are 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 stood at an impressive rate of 97.7 per cent.