From Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Friday night received the 2018 Appropriation Bill from the National Assembly months after it was presented to the federal legislature for appropriation.
The transmission of the budget to the Presidency by the National Assembly Friday night was in fulfilment of the assurance by Senate President Bukola Saraki on Thursday night that the 2018 budget would get to the Presidency on Friday.
Both the Presidency and the National Assembly spent substantial number of hours to tidy up the budget Friday before it was eventually handed over to Senator Ita Enang, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters.
Enang told THISDAY in a telephone conversation Friday night that he had received the budget from the National Assembly and was transmitting it to the president at about 8.30 pm.
He affirmed that the budget had left the National Assembly and was now in the custody of the executive.
Asked if he had handed over the budget to the president, the president’s liaison officer emphasised that the budget had left the National Assembly and he was transmitting it to the president at the time.
Although he did not state categorically that he had handed the budget to the president, “transmitting it now” clearly meant he was was taking it to the president.
“I have received the budget on behalf of the Presidency and I am transmitting it now,” he emphasised. THISDAY however, learnt that indeed, the budget got to the president last night.
Senate President Bukola Saraki had told journalists on Thirsday night in the State House that the budget would unfailingly be transmitted to the president friday.
He said one week delay in transmitting the budget after it was passed on May 17, was caused by the necessity to harmonise both versions of the Appropriation Bill by both chambers of the National Assembly
“I think that should have been done. We had to harmonise. It’s just a slight difference. It had been passed yesterday (Wednesday). It was in the rules and proceedings of today (Thursday). So, I am sure by tomorrow (Friday), we will transmit it to the Presidency,” Saraki had said.
The N9.1 trillion budget passed by the NationalAssembly on May 17 consists of N3.5 trillion as recurrent (non-debt) expenditure and N2.8 trillion capital expenditure.
The budget is N500 billion higher than the N8.6 trillion proposal presented to the National Assembly by Buhari in November, 2017.
The National Assembly also increased the oil benchmark proposed by the executive from $45 to $51 per barrel but retained oil production volume proposal at 2.3 million barrels per day and exchange rate at N305 to $1.
The budget as passed by the federal legislature also comprised N530,421,368,624 as statutory transfer; N2,203,835,365,699 for debt service; N1,954,464,993,775 as fiscal deficit which implies 1.73 percent deficit to gross domestic product (GDP).