Senate to Table 2021 Budget Tomorrow

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Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Barring any last minute change, the Senate Appropriation Committee will tomorrow table the 2021 budget for passage, ‘because the National Assembly may likely go on a Christmas break on December 17’.

According to a source in the Senate Committee on Appropriation, the budget bill would be laid in the Senate on Tuesday because of the likelihood of passage on Tuesday or Wednesday.

However, the source said if there were any differences in the Senate budget bill with the House of Representatives version, then it will go for harmonisation between the Senate and House Appropriation Committees.

But the Senate Appropriation Committee source said: “We don’t envisage if there would be any difference because both appropriation committees in the Senate and the House worked together with even the finance committee on the budget estimates.

“So, all thing being equal, it will be laid in the Senate on Tuesday, and possibly passed on Wednesday as we envisage that the National Assembly will go on break next Thursday,” he said.

It was gathered that with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth being negative from the third quarter of this year, President Muhammadu Buhari has predicted that the country’s economy may lapse into the second recession in four years, with significant adverse consequences.

The president, who disclosed this when he presented a N13.08 trillion budget proposal for 2021 fiscal year to the joint session of the National Assembly, however, assured Nigerians that his government would do everything possible to get the country out of the recession in 2021.

He stressed that Nigeria’s economy is currently facing serious challenges, with the macroeconomic environment being significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Buhari explained that GDP growth declined by 6.1 percent in the second quarter of 2020, adding that this ended the three-year trend of positive, but modest GDP growth recorded since the second quarter of 2017.

According to him, “The Nigerian economy is currently facing serious challenges, with the macroeconomic environment being significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The real GDP growth declined by 6.1 percent in the second quarter of 2020, and this ended the three-year trend of positive but modest real GDP growth recorded since the second quarter of 2017. I am glad to note that through our collective efforts, our economy performed relatively better than that of many other developed and emerging economies.

“GDP growth is projected to be negative in the third quarter of this year. As such, our economy may lapse into the second recession in four years, with significant adverse consequences. However, we are working assiduously to ensure a rapid recovery in 2021. We remain committed to implementing programmes to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty over the next 10 years.”

The president noted further that the 2021 Appropriation with the theme: ‘Budget of Economic Recovery and Resilience’, was designed to further deliver on the goals of Economic Sustainability Plan.

He said the exchange rate has been fixed at N379 per dollar, while the GDP growth is projected at 3.0 per cent and inflation closing at 11.95 per cent.

Buhari said: “An aggregate expenditure of N13.08 trillion is proposed for the federal government in 2021. This includes N1.35 trillion spending by government owned enterprises and grants and aid funded expenditures of N354.85 billion.

“The 2021 budget deficit (inclusive of government owned enterprises and project-tied loans) is projected at N5.20 trillion. This represents 3.64 per cent of estimated GDP, slightly above the 3 per cent threshold set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.”

The president explained that the budget deficit would be financed mainly by new borrowings totaling N4.28 trillion-N205.15 billion from privatisation proceeds and N709.69 billion in drawdowns on multilateral and bilateral loans secured for specific projects and programmes.

On statutory transfers, he stressed further that the sum of N484.49 billion provided for statutory transfers in the 2021 budget represents an increase of N56.46 billion (or 13 per cent) over the revised 2020 provision.

President Buhari, however, urged the National Assembly to expedite action on the passage of the budget.