The National Assembly yesterday passed the N10.594 trillion budget for 2020, with an addition of N266billion to the N10.330trn financial plan presented to it by President Muhammadu Buhari in October.
The legislators also increased their own budget to N128 billion from N125billion earlier proposed, an addition of N3billion.
The passage of the annual 2020 budget before the end of the 2019 fiscal year by the National Assembly signals the country's return to a January - December budget cycle after decades of its disruption, that is if President Buhari assents to it before the year ends.
The 2020 Appropriation Bill was passed into law after a clause by clause consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Appropriation.
The breakdown shows that N560,470,827,235 is for statutory transfers, N2,725,498,930,000 for Debt Service; N4,842,974,600,640 for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure; and N2,465,418,006,955 for Contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure for the year ending on December 31, 2020.
The budget has a Fiscal deficit of N2.2 trillion and Deficit/Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 1.52 percent.
The budget is predicated on crude oil production of 2.18mbpd, just as proposed by the Executive; oil price benchmark of 57 dollar per barrel as against US$55 proposed by the Executive, Exchange Rate of N305 to US$1; Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Inflation Rate of 2.93 per cent and 10.81 per cent respectively.
Capital expenditure for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) for the 2020 fiscal year are: Ministry of Defence N116,181,290,730; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, N7,608,141,474; Ministry of Information and Culture, N7,555,803,233; Ministry of Interior, N34,035,825,302; Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, N1,722,796,040; Ministry of Police Affairs, N15,959,986,864; Ministry of Communication Technology, N5,919,002,554; and Office of the National Security Adviser, N27,418,469,323.
Others are: Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, N25,188,940,930; Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, N2,158,620,395; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, N124,395,096,917; Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, N4,976,199,925; Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, N38,583,331,761; Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, N24,445,756,678; Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, N62,882,531,566; Federal Ministry of Transport, N121,366,932,571; and Federal Ministry of Aviation, N52,061,533,122.
Also, for the 2020 fiscal year, the Ministry of Power has an allocation of N129,082,499,363; Ministry of Petroleum Resources, N3,337,444,887; Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, N10,431,563,177; Ministry of Works and Housing, N315,563,564,269; Ministry of Water Resources, N91,679,927,042; Ministry of Justice, N3,853,600,220; Federal Capital Territory Administration, N62,407,154,360; and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, N23,120,350,399.
Others include: Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, N3,735,486,210; Military of Women Affairs, N6,650,300,966; Federal Ministry of Education, N84,728,529,572; Ministry of Health, N59,909,430,837; Federal Ministry of Environment, N12,350,140,731; and Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, N61,085,146,003.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his concluding remarks after the 2020 budget was passed, said, "when we came in, all of us approved our legislative agenda, and one of the key pillars of this agenda is to take back our budget cycle from the very undesirable cycle that cannot be defined to something that can be defined and bought into by our country and business partners living in and outside the country.
Speaking on the 2020 budget passage, a chartered accountant and Managing Director of Qeeva Advisory Limited, Matthew Ogagavworia, said there should be cautious optimism about the passage of the budget, "after all, when it was passed in the previous years, it took effect from when it was signed into law and usually ran for one year."
He said: "The major issues are implementation and releases in line with revenue realized. So merely passing the budget alone will not cure the ills of low implementation. If your assumptions on revenue are not met, you can certainly not make releases.
"However, even if the government succeeds in borrowing to make those releases as expected, if the enabling factors like constant electricity, that will spur manufacturing and growth continue to elude us, this passage will not make any major impact.
"So besides early passage, the government must tighten loose ends because the leakages are very high. A lot of things are still manual. A lot needs to be automated so that most of government revenue will be captured."
He noted that the positive thing from the passage is that most businesses can now align their plans with that of the government which is the biggest spender in the economy.
An Associate Professor of financial Economics, University of Abuja, Dr Yelwa Mohammed, said the federal government wants to consolidate on the gains from 2018 and 2019 budgets on sustaining the capital projects and creating jobs.
But Dr Binta Yahaya of the Economics department, Yobe State University, said the budget is unsustainable until infrastructures are put in place to boost businesses.
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