The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Hon. Umar El-Yakub, has said the decision of the Presidency to increase the 2020 budget despite drop in revenue was meant to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economy.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Friday signed the Appropriation (Repeal and Amendment) Act, 2020 into law.
The revised budget provides for aggregate expenditure of N10.81trn, which is an increase of N216bn over the level of expenditure initially proposed in the 2020 Appropriation Act.
El-Yakub, in an interview with State House correspondents, attributed the increase to the government’s decision to prioritise infrastructure projects that would reflate the economy.
He said, “One needs to understand that the essence of the review is to prioritise government projects that will address infrastructure and ginger the economy more as well as address health issues.
“Because of the pandemic, investments are made in those regards and certainly you know that there are palliatives that had been initiated by the Federal Government in the phases of implementation.
“All those necessitated this new look at the budget so as to free certain amounts of money hitherto appropriated for certain projects which in the circumstances are not as expedient to prioritise.
“We looked at other infrastructure that need prioritisation so as to address the pandemic and the difficulties that it has brought to the lives of Nigerians.”
El-Yakub lauded the cordial relationship currently existing between the executive and legislative arms of government, saying it is a relationship that is based on mutual understanding, respect and partnership in nation-building.
The presidential aide said the National Assembly needed the executive arm of government because it is the arm that implements laws that have been passed by the National Assembly.
He said the revised 2020 budget was one of the bills the National Assembly looked at expeditiously because it is an amendment that was necessitated by the circumstances of the moment which also caused a serious strain on the economy.