FG Blames N’Assembly for Delay in 2019 Budget Presentation

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Udo Udoma

Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja

The federal government has attributed the delay in the presentation of the 2019 budget by President Muhammadu Buhari to the failure of the National Assembly to provide a date for the presentation.

This position was made known by the Minister of Budget and Planning, Udoma Udoma, who briefed State House Correspondents after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in company of the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi.

The minister said the budget was ready for presentation, and that the council had been waiting for the National Assembly to give a date for the presentation.

Udoma also told journalists that N7.13 billion had been approved for six companies to protect six sections of the the country’s waterways.

Speaking on the budget, he said: “As you already know, the budget is ready. We are liaising with the National Assembly because they are to give us a date. If they say today, we will go. The budget is ready.”

As at October 24, FEC had approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) for the 2019 – 2021, which is a template for the 2019 budget.

President Buhari approved a budget estimate of N8.73 trillion for the 2019, N400 billion lower than that of this year.

FEC also expressed happiness with Nigeria’s GDP growth rate which rose to 1.81 per cent in third quarter, according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Udoma said government projection was to cut down the level of borrowing from N1.6 trillion in 2018 to N1.5 trillion in 2019, while the deficit component would be reduced from N1.9 trillion in 2018 to N1.6 trillion.

Despite the recent crude oil output drop to about 1.9 million barrels a day, he expressed government’s optimism that the 2.3 million barrels a day target was achievable with production now rising to about 2.15 million barrels per day.

Though a $50 per barrel oil price benchmark was proposed in the ERGP, the minister also expressed confidence that with a significant rise in the price above $80 per barrel currently, government has proposed a $60 per barrel oil price for the budget.

He said N305 was proposed as naira-dollar exchange rate, adding that efforts were ongoing on to keep inflation down after slight increases in the last two months after 18 months consecutive decline.

Government projects a gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 3.01 per cent, reduced from 4.5 per cent in the ERGP; 3.6 per cent in 2020 and 3.9 per cent in 2021, he said.

According to him, “Growth is expected to increase from 0.8 per cent in 2017 to 2.1 per cent this year and 3.01 per cent in 2019 with the continued implementation of the ERGP in 2019 and improved outlook for oil prices.”

He said with a projection that was based on the oil price and oil production assumptions, government was optimistic that it would generate about N3.6 trillion from oil, representing an increase of about N500 billion compared with 2018.

About N6.9 trillion revenue is projected to be available to the budget in 2019 while government expects to collect less revenue from some independent sources.

As against about N847 billion realised in the 2018 budget, the minister said only about N624 billion is expected in 2019.