15 May 2014

Nigeria: Five Months Into 2014 FG, NASS Still Divided Over Budget

The federal government yesterday explained why the signing of the 2014 budget was being delayed, saying it was still working hard to reconcile certain differences that emanated from what was sent back to it by the national Assembly.

Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku who made the position known, while briefing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting said council had briefing from the Minister of Finance on progress made so far in reconciling certain areas of distortions after the budget was sent back from the National Assembly.

He said, "The minister of finance briefed us today at the FEC relating to the progress on the budget. It is very sad that we have almost entered the middle of the year and we don't have a budget. This indeed is sad that the budget has taken so long in coming and practically we have less than seven months to execute the budget.

"We will do everything possible to reconcile the few differences that emerged in what was transmitted to the government by the national Assembly.

There are few areas of distortions and there are those areas that are very serious and we think there is a need to look into them because of the negative impact those distortions may have on the implementation of the budget".

Assuring that there is serious consultation going on between the executive and the legislature in this regard, Maku assured that the president will sign the budget very soon.

"There is a lot of conversation going on now between the federal ministry of finance and the National Assembly on these issues. And very shortly we believe that we are going to reconcile those areas and then the final budget will be announced to the nation by the President", the minister stated.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives had passed the 2014 budget, hiking the figures to N4.695 trillion from the N4.642 trillion estimates presented by the executive.

The increase of the budget amount by about N53 billion changed the original estimate which was transmitted by President Goodluck Jonathan on December 19, 2013 through the Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The 2014 budget is made up of statutory transfers, N408.687 billion; debt servicing, N712 billion; recurrent expenditure, N2.454 trillion; and capital expenditure, N1.119 trillion.

In the proposal, submitted by the executive, the recurrent expenditure was put at N2.4 trillion while capital expenditure was N1.1 trillion.

The budget passed was based on an oil price benchmark of $77.5 per barrel and crude oil production of 2.3883 million barrels per day.

Maku also informed journalists that the Minister of Works,Mike Onolememen briefed FEC on the progress made so far in the construction of the 2nd Niger bridge, saying the temporary road at the Asaba end and other early works are now at an advanced stage.

Shedding more light on the issue, Onolememen said work was in progress according to the specification with the environmental impact assessment under finalization.

"If you travel to Asaba today, you will see the new road and the massive deployment of equipment to site with the Julius Berger working to ensure that work is delivered on time as scheduled", he said.

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