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Buhari President unhappy with National Assembly's changes to 2018 budget

The president said he's unhappy with how the legislature tampered with the bill he presented in 2017.

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Pulse Opinion: The National Assembly has a N14.5bn question to answer over 2018 budget play The president is unhappy with the National Assembly's tampering with the 2018 budget (Inside Arewa)

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed concern with changes made by the National Assembly to the 2018 appropriation bill which he signed into law on Wednesday, June 20, 2018.

Speaking after signing the bill at the Presidential Villa, the president said the legislature made certain cuts to the bill he presented which he claims was altered in a way that drastically affects the executives' policies and projects.

He noted that the legislature made cuts amounting to N347 billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion.

The president said he only signed the bill because he didn't want to further slow down the pace of recovery of Nigeria's economy. He further disclosed that he'll send "a supplementary and/or amendment budget" to the national assembly to rectify the critical issues he raised.

He said, "I am however concerned about some of the changes @nassnigeria has made to the budget proposals I presented. The logic behind the Constitutional direction that budgets should be proposed by the Executive is that, it is the Executive that knows & defines its policies & projects.

"Unfortunately, that has not been given much regard in what has been sent to me. The National Assembly made cuts amounting to N347 billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion.

"Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation. Some of the new projects inserted by @nassnigeria have not been properly conceptualized, designed and costed and will therefore be difficult to execute.

"As it is, some of these projects relate to matters that are the responsibility of the States and Local Governments, and for which the Federal Government should therefore not be unduly burdened.

"Such examples of projects from which cuts were made are as follows: Provisions for some nationally/regionally strategic infrastructure projects such as Counterpart funding for Mambilla Power Plant, 2nd Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway & Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail were cut by an aggregate of N11.5bn.

"At a time when we are working with Labour to address compensation-related issues, a total of 5 billion Naira was cut from the provisions for Pension Redemption Fund and Public Service Wage Adjustment.

"The provisions for Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and Special Economic Zones/Industrial Parks, which are key industrialization initiatives of this Administration, were cut by a total of 14.5 billion Naira.

"The provision for Construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport was cut from 2 billion Naira to 500 million Naira, which will further delay the completion of this critical project.

"The Take-off Grant for the Maritime University in Delta State, a key strategic initiative of the Federal Government, was cut from 5 billion Naira to 3.4 billion Naira.

"About seventy (70) new road projects have been inserted into the budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing @FMPWH. In doing so, @nassnigeria applied some of the additional funds expected from the upward review of the oil price benchmark to the Ministry’s vote.

"Regrettably, however, in order to make provision for some of the new roads, the amounts allocated to some strategic major roads have been cut by the National Assembly.

"Notwithstanding the above stated observations, I have decided to sign the 2018 Budget in order not to further slowdown the pace of recovery of our economy, which has doubtlessly been affected by the delay in passing the budget.

"However, it is my intention to seek to remedy some of the most critical of these issues through a supplementary and/or amendment budget which I hope the National Assembly will be able to expeditiously consider."

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, were both absent at the bill signing, but were represented by Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Na'Allah, and House of Reps Chief Whip, Ado Dogowa, respectively.

The president signed the N9.120 trillion bill seven months after he first presented a budget of N8.612 trillion to lawmakers.

The increase in the figure happened after the legislature increased the crude oil benchmark price pegged for the budget from $45 per barrel to $50.5.

The bill was delayed for months due to what lawmakers described as the failure of ministries, departments and agencies to either submit details of their budget proposals or their amendments as requested by Senate committees.

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