Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has expressed confidence that the 2017 Budget will deliver positive economic growth and prosperity that will wipe away the bleakness of recession and usher in the dawn of abundance.
Speaking, on Monday, at the signing of the 2017 appropriation bill into law at the presidential villa, Abuja, Osinbajo declared that the budget, christened “Budget of Economic Recovery and Growth” is designed to bring the Nigerian economy out of recession unto a path of sustainable and inclusive growth.
He insisted that the budget reflects the commitment of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to ensure strong linkage between the medium-term Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) recently launched by the President and the annual budgets.
“It is designed to bring the Nigerian economy out of recession unto a path of sustainable and inclusive growth. The budget has a revenue projection of N5.08 trillion and an aggregate expenditure of N7.44 trillion. The projected fiscal deficit of N2.36 trillion is to be financed largely by borrowing,” he said.
“Let me assure those who have expressed concern about the growing public debt that we are taking several actions to grow government revenues as well as plug revenue leakages. This is because, notwithstanding the fact that our borrowings are still within sustainability limits, we are determined, in the medium term, to reduce our reliance on borrowings to finance our expenditures.
“As you are all aware, our economy is already signalling a gradual recovery as growth is headed towards positive territory. First quarter GDP, at -0.52% compares favourably with -2.06% in the first quarter of 2016.
“Inflation is declining – down to 17.24% from 18.74% as at May 2016. Our external reserves are now US$30.28 billion as at June 8, 2017 up from US$26.59 billion as at May 31, 2016. We are also gradually instilling confidence in our exchange rate regime.
“This improvement in GDP growth and other macro-economic indicators is largely attributable to our strategic implementation of the 2016 Budget as well as stronger macroeconomic management and policy coordination.
“I am confident that the 2017 Budget will deliver positive economic growth and prosperity – one that is self-sustaining and inclusive. In this regard, the 2017 budget will be implemented in line with our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.”
Osinbajo also expressed appreciation to the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as the entire leadership and members of the National Assembly for completing work on the 2017 Appropriation Bill.
He declared that the process of preparing and processing this Bill was much smoother than the 2016 Appropriations Bill and commended the Ministry of Budget and Planning for the significant improvement in the quality of the preparation, as well as the presentation of the budget.
“However, the final presentation and the signing of the budget has been considerably delayed. This was largely due to disagreements we had about the changes introduced to our 2017 Budget proposals by the National Assembly,” he continued.
“The executive took the view that the changes fundamentally affected some of our priority programmes and would make implementation extremely difficult and in some cases impossible.
“I must say that the entire leadership of the National Assembly led by the Senate President and the Speaker, adopted a commendably patriotic and statesmanlike approach to our engagements on resolving these critical issues.
“In sum, the engagements yielded acceptable results. The most important being that the leadership of the National Assembly has given us a commitment that the National Assembly will re-instate the budgetary allocations for all the important executive projects, such as the railway standard gauge projects, the Mambilla Power Project, the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway etc. which they had reduced to fund some of the new projects they introduced.
“This re-instatement will be by way of an application for virement by the Executive which they have agreed will be expeditiously considered and approved by the National Assembly.
“It is as a result of that understanding and the outcome of our detailed engagements that we feel able to sign the 2017 Appropriations Bill into law today.
“I am also pleased to mention that, in our discussions with the leadership of the National Assembly, we have jointly resolved to return to a predictable January to December fiscal year.
“Therefore, on the understanding that we will be submitting the 2018 Budget to the National Assembly by October 2017, the leadership of the National Assembly has committed to working towards the passage of the 2018 Budget into law before the end of 2017. I must, once more, express my appreciation to the leadership of the National Assembly, for the collaborative spirit in which these discussions were conducted.”
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