President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday accused the National Assembly of making what he called worrisome changes to the budget proposal by the Executive arm of government.
Signing the document into law on Friday, the President gave a rundown of the areas where the lawmakers made significant but worrisome changes to the proposal.
He said he would revert to the National Assembly with a request for amendment as soon as the lawmakers resume.
He added that critical ongoing projects that are cardinal to his administration must not suffer a setback due to reduced funding.
He reminded all that he had made it clear to the lawmakers during the presentation of the budget the fiscal year 2022 would be very crucial in his administration’s efforts to complete and put to use critical agenda projects, as well as improve the general living conditions of our people.
‘‘It is in this regard that I must express my reservations about many of the changes that the National Assembly has made to the 2022 Executive Budget proposal.
‘‘Some of the worrisome changes are as follows:
‘‘Increase in projected FGN Independent Revenue by N400 billion, the justification for which is yet to be provided to the Executive;
‘‘Reduction in the provision for Sinking Fund to Retire Maturing Bonds by N22 billion without any explanation;
‘‘Reduction of the provisions for the Non-Regular Allowances of the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Navy by N15 billion and N5 billion respectively.
‘‘This is particularly worrisome because personnel cost provisions are based on agencies’ nominal roll and approved salaries/allowances;
‘‘Furthermore, an increase of N21.72 billion in the Overhead budgets of some MDAs, while the sum of N1.96 billion was cut from the provision for some MDAs without apparent justification;
‘‘Increase in the provision for Capital spending (excluding Capital share in Statutory Transfer) by a net amount of N575.63 billion, from N4.89 trillion to N5.47 trillion.’’
President Buhari also expressed concern in the reductions in provisions for some critical projects, including N12.6 billion in the Ministry of Transport’s budget for the ongoing Rail Modernisation projects; N25.8 billion from Power Sector Reform Programme under the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; N14.5 billion from several projects of the Ministry of Agriculture, and introducing over 1,500 new projects into the budgets of this Ministry and its agencies.
Further, the President also expressed his reservations on the following:
‘‘Inclusion of new provisions totaling N36.59 billion for National Assembly’s projects in the Service Wide Vote which negates the principles of separation of Powers and financial autonomy of the Legislative arm of government.
‘‘The changes to the original Executive proposal are in the form of new insertions, outright removals, reductions and/or increases in the amounts allocated to projects.
‘‘Provisions made for as many as 10,733 projects were reduced while 6,576 new projects were introduced into the budget by the National Assembly.
‘‘Reduction in the provisions for many strategic capital projects to introduce ‘Empowerment’ projects.
‘‘The cuts in the provisions for several of these projects by the National Assembly may render the projects un-implementable or set back their completion, especially some of this Administration’s strategic capital projects.
‘‘Most of the projects inserted relate to matters that are basically the responsibilities of State and Local Governments, and do not appear to have been properly conceptualised, designed and costed.
‘‘Many more projects have been added to the budgets of some MDAs with no consideration for the institutional capacity to execute the additional projects and/or for the incremental recurrent expenditure that may be required.’’
President Buhari declared that it was surprising that despite the National Assembly increasing projected revenue by N609.27 billion, the additional Executive request of N186.53 billion for critical expenditure items could not be accommodated without increasing the deficit, while the sum of N550.59 billion from the projected incremental revenues was allocated at the discretion of National Assembly.
‘‘I signed the 2022 Appropriation Bill into law to enable its implementation to commence on 1st January 2022.
‘‘However, I will revert to the National Assembly with a request for amendment and/or virement as soon as the Assembly resumes to ensure that critical ongoing projects that are cardinal to this administration, and those nearing completion, do not suffer a setback due to reduced funding.’’
On COVID-19 and budget implementation, the President said despite the lingering adverse effects of the pandemic, he was happy with the success recorded in the implementation of the 2021 Budget.
‘‘The sum of N3.94 trillion that was provided for the implementation of capital projects by MDAs during the fiscal year has been released fully.
‘‘To enable MDAs to complete the implementation of their 2021 capital projects and optimise the impact of the capital budget on the economy, they have been allowed to continue to expend the funds released for their 2021 capital budgets till 31st March, 2022,’’ he said.
The President commended the understanding and speedy action of the National Assembly on this matter.
‘‘As the 2022 Budget will be the last full year budget to be implemented by our Administration, its effective implementation is very critical for delivering our legacy projects, promoting social inclusion and strengthening the resilience of the economy.