House: We Increased 2021 Budget Due to Economic Realities

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By Udora Orizu

The House of Representatives yesterday disclosed that the National Assembly increased the 2021 budget from the initial proposal of N13.08 trillion to N13.58 trillion ‘because of the economic realities the country was facing.’

Both chambers of the National Assembly had last Monday passed the 2021 Appropriation Act into law, and increased the budget proposals from N13.08 trillion to N13.58 trillion, amounting to N588.027 billion increase.

Briefing journalists at the National Assembly complex in Abuja, the Spokesperson of the House, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, said: “What we passed was N13.58 trillion. It’s an increase from what the president laid before us. The realities on ground made us to push it to what we finally approved today (yesterday). The House had approved N4.125 trillion on capital expenditure; N5.641 trillion on recurrent expenditure; N3.324 trillion is for debt service, while N5.641 trillion is on debt services.

“The House has also recognised that it’s important to have statutory transfers, and that is N496.528 billion, which has also been approved. This is to show our commitment to Nigerians that this budget is here to stay. It is also important to know that we benchmarked the budget on $40 per barrel, knowing that our major source of income revenue is oil and gas.”

The House spokesperson also stated that last week, the National Assembly extended the implementation of 2020 capital budget to meet up with the delay caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, “As you are aware, last Thursday, we were approached by the executive arm to shape the implementation timeline of the 2020 budget from the end of December to March of the coming year. The reason being that the impact of the COVID-19 made it difficult for them to actually implement the 2020 budget the way they ought to, and that is the reality on ground.

“The House was actually impressed that the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) were able to raise this complaint that if we go by the December 31 of the implementation calendar for the 2020 budget, 75 percent of the fund allocated for implementation will come back to the treasury which is not good for the implementation they proposed in the budget. On the implementation of capital expenditure, we have to give an extension of about 90 days to enable them meet up with their target.”

Kalu called on President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly give his assent to Appropriation Bill passed by the legislature, and ensure prompt and adequate release of funds to implement the projects captured in the budget.