The N21.83 trillion 2023 Budget as well as the 2022 Supplementary Appropriations Bill have both been signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Abuja. This budget will be the administration’s final one.

The president stated at the signing of the budget that the total expenditures, which came to N21.83 trillion, were up N1.32 trillion from the executive’s initial proposal of N20.51 trillion.

Regarding the supplemental appropriations measure, the president stated that the 2022 Supplementary Appropriations Act will give the administration the ability to address the damage that the most recent nationwide flood did to the infrastructure and agricultural sectors. He announced that more information about the approved budget and the accompanying 2022 Finance Act will be provided later by the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning.

“We have examined the changes made by the National Assembly to the 2023 Executive Budget proposal. The amended fiscal framework for 2023 as approved by the National Assembly shows additional revenues of N765.79 billion, and an unfunded deficit of N553.46 billion.

“It is clear that the National Assembly and the executive need to capture some of the proposed additional revenue sources in the fiscal framework. This must be rectified. I have also noted that the National Assembly introduced new projects into the 2023 budget proposal for which it has appropriated N770.72 billion.

“The National Assembly also increased the provisions made by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) by N58.55 billion.’’ President Buhari said his decision to sign the 2023 Appropriation Bill into law as passed by the National Assembly was to enable its implementation commence without delay; considering the imminent transition process to another democratically elected government.

He, however, directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to engage with the Legislature to revisit some of the changes made to the Executive budget proposal. The President hopes that the National Assembly will work with the Executive branch of the government.

The president also advised the National Assembly to change its mind on the proposal to securitize the remaining Ways and Means balance at the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for the Federal Government. “As I stated, the balance has accumulated over several years and represents funding provided by the CBN as lender of last resort to the government.

“To enable it meet obligations to lenders, as well as cover budgetary shortfalls in projected revenues and or borrowings. I have no intention to fetter the right of the National Assembly to interrogate the composition of this balance, which can still be done even after granting the requested approval.

“Failure to grant the securitisation approval will, however, cost the government about N1.8 trillion in additional interest in 2023, given the differential between the applicable interest rates which is currently MPR plus three per cent and the negotiated interest rate of nine per cent and a 40-year repayment period on the securitised debt of the Ways and Means.’’

To ensure more effective implementation of the 2022 capital Budget, Buhari thanked the National Assembly for approving his request for an extension of its validity date to March 31. The president then directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to work toward early release of the 2023 capital votes to enable MDAs commence the implementation of their capital projects in good time.

He alleged that this is done to aid any attempt to complete important projects and provide public services; as well as to enhance the quality of life for the citizens. He emphasized once more that the goals of the 2023 Budget were to support fiscal sustainability, macroeconomic stability, and a seamless transition to the new administration.

The president continued by saying that it was also intended to advance social inclusion and boost economic resilience. He claimed that the Budget contained sufficient measures to ensure the smooth running of the next general elections and the transition plan.

The president instructed MDAs and Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) to step up their revenue mobilization efforts, including making sure that all taxable entities and people pay any outstanding taxes, in order to meet the budget’s revenue goals.

To accomplish the admirable goals of the 2023 Budget, the president stated that pertinent Agencies must maintain existing efforts toward the realization of crude oil production and export targets. His words: “To augment available fiscal resources, MDAs are to accelerate the implementation of Public Private Partnership initiatives, especially those designed to fast-track the pace of our infrastructural development.

“This, being a deficit budget, the associated Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly. I count on the cooperation of the National Assembly for a speedy consideration and approval of the Plan,’’ he said.

The president expressed disappointment that the evaluation of the Finance Bill 2022, as it had been enacted by the National Assembly, hadn’t yet been completed. “This is because some of the changes made by the National Assembly need to be reviewed by the relevant agencies of government. I urge that this should be done speedily to enable me to assent it into law,’’ he said.

Ahmad Lawan, the president of the Senate, and Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the House of Representatives, were present when the budget was signed. The Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and all of the National Assembly’s leaders and members were commended by the president for the bill’s swift review and passage. He also recognised the roles played by the Ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the Budget Office of the Federation and the Senior Special Assistants to the President (Senate and House of Representatives).

The President also applauded the Office of the Chief of Staff, and all those who worked tirelessly and sacrificed so much toward producing the 2023 Appropriation Act. “As I mentioned during the presentation of the 2023 Appropriation Bill, early passage of the budget proposal is critical to ensure effective delivery of our legacy projects, a smooth transition programme and effective take-off of the incoming administration.

“I appreciate the firm commitment of the 9th National Assembly to the restoration of a predictable January to December fiscal year. I also appreciated the mutual understanding, collaboration and engagements between officials of the Executive and the Legislative arms of government. These have made the quick consideration and passage of our Fiscal bills possible over the last four years.

“I firmly believe the next administration will also sustain the current public financial management reform efforts, further improve the budgeting process, and particularly maintain the tradition of supporting its Appropriation Bills with Finance Bills designed to facilitate their implementation. To sustain and institutionalise the gains of the reforms, we must expedite action and conclude work on the Organic Budget Law for it to become operational before the end of this administration.

”As this Administration draws to a close, we will accelerate the implementation of critical measures aimed at further improving the Nigerian business environment, enhancing the welfare of our people and ensuring sustainable economic growth over medium to long term.”

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