Both the upper and lower chambers of the National Assembly have reached a consensus on the 2019 national budget, jointly passing a budget of N8.916 trillion, and would now transmit the document back to the president for assent.
Backstory: The House announced its decision on Tuesday, after both chambers passed the same amount and details, due to the collaborative efforts of their individual appriopriation committees led by Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje and Honorable Mustpaha Bala Dawaki.
The figure passed marked a N90 billion increment on the original N8.83 trillion fiscal proposal that President Muhammadu Buhari had laid down before the House on December 19, 2018, before heading into his re-election year.
The budget comprises N4.055 trillion for recurrent expenditure; N2.094 trillion for capital expenditure; N502 billion is for statutory transfers; and N2.254 trillion for debt servicing.
Assumptions: Budget is predicated on daily oil production of 2.3 million barrel per day, oil benchmark of $60 per barrel and an exchange rate of N305 to a dollar.
Budget Breakdown: A cross section of some of the line items in the budget which was made public by the House after passage showed:
- N23.678 billion to be used as severance gratuity for outgoing lawmakers and their aides, as well as incoming legislators and their inauguration programmes. This is however, in addition to the N128 billion approved for NASS, an increment on Buhari’s N125 billion.
- N10 billion was added to the original budget as Special Intervention Fund for re-building Zamfara state.
- N160 billion was also appropriated for public service wage adjustment for MDAs, including arrears of promotion and salary increase and payment of severance benefits.
- N45 billion for the North East Development Commission (NEDC), a N35 billion increase on Buhari’s proposed N10 billion.
- N75 billion for Operations Lafiya Dole and other operations of the Armed Forces; N64 billion for Amnesty Programme.
- N2.3 billion for entitlements of former presidents/heads of states and vice presidents/Chief of General Staff.
- In terms of Ministerial allocations, the Federal Ministry of Interior got N564.222 billion; Education, N463.395 billion; Defence, N430.829 billion; Health, N315.717 billion; Youths and Sports Development, N122.668 billion; National Security Adviser, N86.840 billion; SGF, N63.400 billion. Others are Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, N66.107 billion; Information and Culture, N44.601 billion; Agriculture and Rural Development, N57.677 billion, among others.
The Ball is in Buhari’s Court: The president’s submission of the 2019 budget in December last year, set the budget off to a slow start. However, now that the NASS has approved the budget at its own slow pace five months into the fiscal year, it is left to the president to either assent to the budget or not. Given the fraught relationship between the executive and legislature in recent years, it’s impossible to predict Buhari’s next course of action.