Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
In keeping with its promise to present the 2013 budget to the National Assembly in September, the executive arm of government has said that the budget is ready for presentation as soon as the lawmakers return from recess.
This was confirmed yesterday by the Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Dr. Bright Okogu, in a phone chat with THISDAY.
Okogu disclosed that as promised by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the budget has been concluded.
He said the National Assembly is expected to resume next week and that as soon as the lawmakers settle down for legislative duties, the budget would be presented to them.
If this happens, the nation may mark a return to the normal budget cycle of January 1 to December 31 as opposed to the current cycle, which owing to delays in the budget’s passage in previous years, realistically runs from April 1 to March 31 the next year.
In order to ensure that the 2013 Appropriation Bill is presented to the National Assembly as promised, the Federal Government had at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on August 7, approved the 2013 fiscal framework, which had projected a revenue target of N3.891 trillion and N4.929 trillion as expenditure.
Recurrent expenditure in the 2013 budget was reduced from 71.47 per cent in the 2012 budget to 68.66 per cent, while capital expenditure rose from 28.53 per cent in 2012 to 31.34 per cent in 2013.
FEC had also agreed that the fiscal framework should be submitted to the National Assembly before the end of September when the 2013 budget will be made available to the lawmakers.
FEC had considered a memorandum on the 2013-2015 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), which set the broad framework and priorities of the budget.
The highlights of the 2013 budget, captioned “Budget of Fiscal Consolidation with Growth” is predicated on a crude oil production projection of 2.53 million barrels a day, against 2.48 million barrels a day in 2012 and benchmark price of $75 a barrel against $72 a barrel in 2012.
“Everybody has agreed that the work for 2013 budget must start early this year; that is why we have the fiscal strategy paper this early. Once we finish here, we are going to transmit the document to the National Assembly.
“So at the same time you are holding the budget tight, you are loading the resources into key sectors like infrastructure – power, roads, railway – that is, physical infrastructure, and also into human capacity areas like education and health,” Okonjo-Iweala said recently.
She also disclosed that the 2013 budget would adopt a new approach to managing the country’s domestic debt profile, adding: “We have always told you that we have been managing to bring down the yearly domestic borrowings from N852 billion in 2011 to N744 billion in 2012 and we are projecting N727 billion in 2013.
“By 2015, we want to bring the yearly borrowing down to N500 billion, not the entire debt stock. This will be achieved through the sinking fund with Mr. President's approval.
“We will be devoting about N25 billion into a sinking fund because we must start putting aside money to retire the debt that we have been building up. We will also put aside N75 billion to help retire a bond that will be due in February 2013,” she added.