President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law the 2016 Budget of N6.06 trillion.
The budget signed was N200 million short of the N6.08 the president presented to the National Assembly.
The president said: “As I said in my New Year message, living in the State House does not in any way alienate me from your daily struggles. I read the newspapers and listen to the TV and radio news. I hear your cries. Share your pains.”
According to him, the budget is intended to signpost a renewal of his government’s commitment to restoring the budget as a serious article of faith with the Nigerian people.
The president signed the budget in the presence of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara,
Others were the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Samaila Kawo, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), John Odigie-Oyegun, Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje and Chairman House of Reps Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumuni Jubril.
While signing the budget, Buhari said it gave him great pleasure to sign the first full-year budget of this administration into law.
He said he would be speaking in more details about the budget, its implementation and the over-all national economic and social policies of the government in his address on May 29th.
He thanked the leadership of the National Assembly, in particular, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and indeed all members of the National Assembly for their cooperation in making this a reality.
He said: “This administration is committed to ensuring that henceforth the annual appropriation bill is presented to the National Assembly in time for the passage of the Act before the beginning of the fiscal year.
“Through the 2016 budget, aptly titled “Budget of Change, the government seeks to fulfill its own side of the social contract. The Budget I have signed into law provides for aggregate expenditures of N6.06trn. Further details of the approved budget, as well as our Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget, will be provided by the Honourable Minister of Budget & National Planning.
“In designing the 2016 budget, we made a deliberate choice to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy despite the huge decline in government revenues from crude oil exports. This is why we decided to enlarge the budget deficit at this time, to be financed principally through foreign and domestic borrowings.”
The president said that all borrowings would however be applied towards growth-enhancing capital expenditures.
Buhari said that N350 billion would immediately be injected into the economy.
He said: “The signing of the budget today will trigger concerted efforts to reflate the Nigerian economy, a key element of which is an immediate injection of N350bn into the economy by way of capital projects.
“To illustrate our renewed commitment to infrastructural development, the 2016 budget allocates over N200bn to road construction as against a paltry N18bn allocated for same purpose in the 2015 budget.”
Buhari said that despite the current difficulties, his government would work extra hard to achieve his revenue projections.
He said: “Our revenue generating agencies are coming under better management and are being re-oriented. The implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) is expected to contribute significantly to improving transparency over government revenues.
“Our determined fight against corruption is resulting in improvements in the quality of public expenditure.
“The work of the Efficiency Unit, as well as other public financial management initiatives, are also contributing in this regard. The continuing efforts to reduce recurrent expenditures should hopefully free up more funds for capital expenditure in 2017 and beyond.
”We are experiencing probably the toughest economic times in the history of our Nation. I want to commend the sacrifice, resilience and toughness of all Nigerians young and old who have despite the hardships continued to have hope and confidence of a great future for Nigerians.
“But permit me to say that this government is also like none other. We are absolutely committed to changing the structure of the Nigerian economy once and for all.
“We are working night and day to diversify the economy such that we never again have to rely on one commodity to survive as a country. So that we can produce the food we eat, make our own textiles, produce most of things we use. We intend to create the environment for our young people to be able to innovate and create jobs through technology.
“I cannot promise you that this will be an easy journey but in the interest of so much and so many we must tread this difficult path. But I can assure you this government you have freely elected will work with honesty and dedication day and night to ensure that our country prospers and that the prosperity benefits all Nigerians. “
The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki also spoke with journalists after the budget was signed. He said: “First congratulations to all of us, to the Government of Nigeria and the legislative arm.
“Like I said in my remarks, the passing of the appropriation bill is the most difficult all over the world.
“Even America that we copy sometimes the government is shut down, we didn’t see that in our case, it is a first time, is a new government so these sort of challenges are rare.
“But I’m happy we are all here to see that we have passed the budget and the president has signed it and what we await now is implementation.