By Omololu Ogunmade
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja signed into law the revised 2020 budget of N10.8 trillion with an assurance that the government’s ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) will receive 50 per cent of their capital allocations at the end of this month.
At the signing ceremony, which took place at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, the President said the earlier N10.59 trillion budget passed by the National Assembly had to be reviewed because of the adverse effects of COVID-19 on the economy.
Buhari, who thanked the National Assembly for prompt passage of the budget, said whereas the 2020 Appropriation Bill earlier passed by the National Assembly was signed on December 17, 2019, the Act was no longer implementable in view of the drastic fall in the prices of petroleum products in the international market.
He also said the review became compelling because the global crisis caused by the pandemic resulted in the reduction of oil production quota by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) with a view to strengthening the oil market.
The President added that the trend was forcing the global economy into recession, hence the need to reallocate resources through the revised budget to pave way for effective implementation of necessary health and emergency matters.
“However, it became necessary to revise the Appropriation Act 2020 in response to recent developments, particularly the COVID-19. Crude oil prices in the world market declined sharply from a high of $72.20 per barrel in January 2020 to below $20 per barrel in April 2020, and have since remained around $40 per barrel.
“Nigeria’s crude oil production quota has been reduced as part of the efforts of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to strengthen the oil market. Global trade has generally been disrupted as almost all economies were locked down for protracted periods in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“All these developments are plunging the global economy into recession, and Nigeria has not escaped the impact of this. In effect, the assumptions underlying the 2020 Appropriation Act are no longer sustainable.
“It is therefore imperative to adjust our expected revenues, considering the widespread disruptions in domestic and international economic activities due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the containment measures taken in response thereto.
“Understandably too, we needed to reallocate resources in the Appropriation (Repeal and Amendment) Act, 2020 to ensure effective implementation of required health and emergency measures, as well as to mitigate the negative socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” he said.
According to the president, the revised 2020 budget was an expression of the federal government’s commitment to effectively contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the lives of Nigerians.
He added that “with these budget amendments, as well as our recently launched N2.3 trillion stimulus programme, we are well-positioned to safeguard the economy.”
Buhari directed affected government institutions to ensure the effective implementation of the budget so that its objectives would be achieved.
He also instructed the ministers to ensure that agencies and departments under their supervision intensify the implementation of capital projects and also cooperate with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to realise the objectives of the budget.
The President also disclosed that a measure of progress had been made in the implementation of the 2020 Appropriation Act, pointing out that as at May 31, 2020, N253.33 billion had been released for implementation of capital projects.
He said: “That Appropriation (Repeal and Amendment) Act, 2020, that I have just signed into law provides for aggregate expenditures of N10.81 trillion, which is an increase of N216 billion over the level of expenditure initially proposed in the 2020 Appropriation Act.”
The President thanked Nigerians for “their understanding and unflinching support, especially during these difficult times.”
Answering questions from State House reporters after the event, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the National Assembly had to pass the revised budget without delay because it was necessary to alleviate the plights of the citizenry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Present at the signing ceremony were Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha; and the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
Others were the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, her Minister of State, Clement Agba; Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emiefiele and the Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze.