FEC Approves N27.5Trillion Appropriation Bill for 2024

•Revises exchange rate to N750/$, oil benchmark now $77.96 

•Okays $1bn AfDB concessionary loan

• Oyedele-led tax reforms committee briefs FEC

•Council approves Nigeria’s draft human rights report to the UN

•Tinubu presents 2024 appropriation bill to N’Assembly tomorrow 

•Abbas: We’ll give Nigerians avenue to participate in budget process

Deji Elumoye, Sunday Aborisade and Juliet Akoje in Abuja 

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday, rose from its weekly meeting with the approval of N27.5 trillion aggregate expenditure for 2024 appropriation bill.

With the approval by FEC, President Bola Tinubu is now set to present the appropriations bill to a joint session of the National Assembly tomorrow. Secretary, Research and Information Department of the National Assembly, Ali Barde, disclosed this to journalists yesterday.

However, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, yesterday disclosed plan by the 10th House to convene a town hall meeting with stakeholders on the 2024 appropriation bill.

The proposed budget is N1.5 trillion higher, than the initial N26 trillion earlier approved by the FEC before the recent passage of the Medium Term Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Policy document by the National Assembly.

Speaking with newsmen at the end of the FEC meeting presided over by the President at the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja, the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, disclosed that the Council also approved a revised Medium Term Economic Framework and Fiscal Policy document which would be represented by the President to the National Assembly alongside the 2024 Appropriation Bill.

Describing the budget as, “a process until it is signed into law,” the Minister said its details would be released when Tinubu presents it to the National Assembly in a matter of days.

According to him, the MTEF and fiscal policy frameworks which had earlier been passed by the National Assembly were also further reviewed.

Bagudu, added that the forecast revenue for 2023 stood at N18.2 trillion, which, he said, was higher than the 2024 revenue including that provided in the two supplementary budgets while the deficit was lower than that of 2023.

He explained: The 2024 budget proposal has the aggregate of N27.5 trillion which is an increase of over N1.5 trillion from the previously estimated using the old reference prices.

“The FEC considered the 2024 appropriation bill. The MTEF was earlier approved by the National Assembly. It has an exchange rate of N700 to a dollar and a crude oil benchmark of $73.

“To improve revenue, the council further reviewed the MTEF, with an exchange rate of N750 to a dollar, and a crude oil benchmark of $77. This will significantly improve revenue.

“FEC considered the 2024 appropriation bill. You may recall that the Medium Term Expenditure Framework was earlier approved and transmitted to the National Assembly, which the assembly graciously approved and that approved Medium Term Expenditure has the exchange rate of N700 to $1 and equally, the benchmark crude oil price at $73.96 cent.

“Mr. President’s determination to find more money to fund our priorities, today the Federal Executive Council further revised the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Policy Framework and two of the important decisions were to use an exchange rate of N750 to $1 and also a benchmark crude oil reference price of $77.96, meaning $4 more than the earlier approval.

“This will significantly increase government revenue that Mr. President intends to use in further supporting the ministries, departments and agencies in the execution of the eight priority areas, particularly Health, Education, infrastructure, security and other developmental areas.

“Equally, the FEC approved the 2024 Appropriation Bill and the presentation of such to the National Assembly by His Excellency, Mr. President. The bill has an aggregate expenditure of N27,500,000,000,000, which is an increase of over N1.5 trillion from the previously estimated, using the old reference prices.

“The forecast revenue is now N18.32 trillion, which is higher than the 2023 revenues, including that provided in the two supplementary budgets. Equally and commendably, the deficit is lower than that of 2023. Details of the Renewed Hope Budget will be announced by Mr. President when he makes the presentation to the National Assembly.”

Also speaking, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, revealed that FEC also approved a concessionary budget support loan of $1 billion and $100 million financing from African Development Bank ( AfDB) and $15 million from Canada-African Development Bank Climate Fund.

According to him: “I would like to give a summary of the memos that I had approved at Council today and of course, they were all to do with financing. First of all, there was an inherited financing, an inherited loan processing, which was to do with the $100 million financing from AfDB and $15 million from the Canada-African Development Bank Climate Fund.

“Essentially, it was processed before this administration came in and, so it has been inherited. Essentially, it is concessional borrowing, around for 4.2 per cent per annum by Abia State, through the federal government. So the funds are to be lent to Abia State and they are for waste management and rehabilitation of roads in Umahia and Aba, in particular. That was approved.

“Secondly, there was financing of $1 billion, concessional financing of 25 years, eight years moratorium at about the same for 4.2 per cent per annum, which was approved by the AfDB for this administration and really, it was in recognition of the macro economic measures that have been taken, the swift movement towards macro stability, restoring revenue, improving the foreign exchange situation, and so forth, that have been taken by this government.

“The reward, as far as the AfDB, a concessional financing organisation, was to provide $1 billion in general budget support

“In order to keep working hard and maximising the ability of the government to use the markets and to take advantage of different situations and improve situations, the FEC approved a total limit of N2 trillion to be available for use by Ministry of Finance in order to go in and out of the market and essentially to, where possible, bring down the rate of interest on the current outstanding.

“So essentially, it will be refinancing and the view is that there will be an opportunity to save about N50 billion or more in debt servicing over time by giving back expensive debt refinancing with cheaper funding.”

For its part, the Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reform Committee, headed by Taiwo Oyedele, also briefed the FEC yesterday, providing updates on its activities after 90 days of operation.

Edun, who provided hints from the Committee’s briefing to the Council, lauded the works so far done, noting that its report was well received by the President.   

He explained: “There was a briefing by the Fiscal Policy and Tax Reform Committee, essentially they’ve been working for roughly 90 days, they’ve been working very well and very effectively, such that they are in a position to have even impacted the economy by coming up with initial reforms, as well as signposting the way forward the in terms of very important targets.

“So in a nutshell, the policy on VAT removal on diesel is from them, they are looking to help boost fiscal situation of the government by increasing revenue, particularly tax revenue, through digitalisation, additional efficiency and rationalisation of the range of taxes that we have at the moment.

“They are looking to increase the ratio of tax-revenue-to-GDP to 18 per cent, which is the average for Africa; so many countries are above that level. It is actually about double where we are now and within a matter of a few years, their target is to reach 18 per cent.

“Other economic measures, in the short term, are being contemplated and their report was well received by Mr. President and indeed, the whole Federal Executive Council,” he said.

On his part, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, said Council approved Nigeria’s draft Human Rights reports for further transmission to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Fagbemi, who made this known after the Monday FEC meeting stated that the approval is for the fourth cycle of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review and in fufillment of the practice of reporting human rights records.

“The memo I presented was for approval of draft national report for the fourth cycle of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review. As you all know, Nigeria is a member of so many international jurisdictions, including the United Nations, and at the United Nations there’s a practice of reporting your human rights records, among others, periodically. We reported in 2009, in 2013 and 2018.

“So since 2018 we have not made any report and there’ll be a meeting where all these reports will be considered in February 2024. We believe that it’s just right that we forward this report ahead of that meeting in February 2024.

“After engaging critical stakeholders in the country in each of the six geopolitical zones and including the three tiers of government; the national, state and local government levels, we compiled the report which we are sending to the United Nations on human rights universal periodic review for consideration.

“Before we can do that, we have to bring it to the Executive Council. So we got approval to forward the report to the United Nations”, he said.

FEC also approved N3.23 billion for the procurement of baggage scanners in five international airports of Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Port Harcourt and Kano.

Briefing newsmen at the end of the FEC meeting held at the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja, Aviation and Aerospace Development Minister, Festus Keyamo, while speaking on the procurement of the scanning machines, said “since I came to office, we have been inundated with complaints of the harrowing experiences that passengers go through at the airports where they have to physically search their bags. I’m sure you all know about that and it’s been really getting under the skin of Nigerians.

“You’ll see various agencies lined up; NDLEA, they’ll say open your bag, Immigration, they’ll say open your bag, Customs, they’ll say open your bag, EFCC, they’ll say open your bag, and they will dip their hands in your bag. So we thought we should do something like you have the TSA in America, where you have detection machines. So when they pass your bags through the machines, they detect explosives or any other thing and that’s the end of the search.

“So it’s for the approval of the award of contract for the supply and installation of customized explosive and narcotic detection screening systems, with remote and dual view for the international airports of Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu.

“Luckily enough, the Council saw the need for this kind of equipment in order to relieve Nigerians of such experiences and it was graciously approved by Council.”

Asked for the cost of the machines to be customized, Keyamo said it would cost the country N3.23 billion.

The minister equally disclosed that a memo for the signing of a Bilateral Air Service Agreement with the Republic of Guyana was approved by FEC.

He also gave reasons why the suspended Nigeria Air project conceived by the administration of ex-President Muhammadu Buhari could not be continued by the present government.

On what to expect from the suspended Air Nigeria project embarked upon by the immediate past administration, Keyamo explained that the.project was meant to create monopoly as conceived by the Buhari’s administration.

According to him, the government’s plan was to crash air fares by waiving taxes for the proposed airline.

He explained that waiving taxes for Air Nigeria while not doing same for other privately owned ones would have created a monopoly in the system and run other operators out of the market.

 This, he said, would have led to disequilibrium in the system.

According to him, the panel which investigated the Air Nigeria project discovered so many irregularities which he promised to talk about at the appropriate time.

Tinubu Presents 2024 Budget To National Assembly, Tomorrow

President Bola Tinubu will present the 2024 Appropriations bill to a joint session of the National Assembly tomorrow.

Secretary, Research and Information Department of the National Assembly, Ali Barde confirmed the development to journalists yesterday.

This will be the first budget Tinubu would present to the National Assembly since he was inaugurated in May.

The presentation of the 2024 budget indicates that the Tinubu administration would maintain the January to December budget cycle initiated by former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Communication on the budget presentation by President Tinubu to joint session of the National Assembly must have been forwarded to both the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Tajudeen Abbas which would however be read in plenary today.

Ahead of the budget presentation, Tinubu had three weeks ago, forwarded to both chambers of the National Assembly, 20224 – 2026 Medium Term Expenditure Framework ( MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper ( FSP) where the sum of N26.1trillion was proposed as total expenditure profile for 2024 fiscal year .

The Senate Joint Committees which were coordinated by the Finance Panel Chairman, Senator Sani Musa, after two weeks of interactive sessions with heads of ministries, departments and agencies on revenue and expenditure projections made for them had approved the MTEF-FSP.

It specifically approved the N26.1trillion proposed as 2024 budget and other parameters as proposed by Tinubu.

Abbas: We’ll Give Nigerians Avenue to Participate in 2024 Budget Process

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, yesterday disclosed plan by the 10th House to convene a town hall meeting with stakeholders on the 2024 Appropriation Bill about to be laid before a joint session of the National Assembly by the President tomorrow.

Abbas, who made this known while declaring open a one-day capacity building retreat for chairmen and deputy chairmen of House committees held in Abuja, said this would allow Nigerians participate in the consideration and passage of the budget.

Present at the event were the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu; Chief of Staff to the President and former Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, a former President of the Senate and ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, many members of the House as well as representatives of Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) and YIAGA Africa, who provided support for the retreat.

Abbas, stated that in line with its mantra, ‘Peoples House,’ the 10th House was committed to greater and more transparent engagement with the public adding that this was necessary for reducing suspicion, building trust and generating support for the work of the National Assembly.

He said: “As we expect to receive the 2024 Appropriation Bill in a few days, I wish to state that the House will convene a Budget Town Hall Meeting to enable citizens to make inputs into the 2024 Appropriation.

“It is the first time such an engagement is planned at the national level. I invite our partners to work with us in preparing for a vigorous and all-inclusive budget process.

“To ensure speedy passage of the 2024 budget, I charge all committees to double their efforts and finalise all considerations in two weeks. However, this does not imply haphazard and superficial consideration of the budget.

“Rather, it is a challenge to you to deploy all resources and make the needed sacrifices to ensure we pass the budget in good time for the good of all Nigerians.”

He noted that committees play a crucial role in the legislative process, and have been called the, ‘engine room’ of the parliament and that through committees, members develop subject matter expertise and undertake more detailed review and scrutiny of bills and other government policies.

“Committees have contributed in no small measure to improving accountability through its oversight function.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the National Assembly, especially the House of Representatives, has progressively exercised its powers to ensure that the executive is always answerable to the Nigerian people.”

Abbas, also noted that despite the growing assertiveness of the Nigerian legislature and its centrality in promoting good governance, committees face several challenges that impede their overall effectiveness which include a high turnover rate and its attendant effect on legislative expertise.

“For instance, the 10th House of Representatives has recorded the highest attrition rate since the return to democracy in 1999. As a result, critical knowledge and expertise have been lost in the process.”

The Speaker listed other factors militating against committees’ effectiveness to include insufficient resources particularly inadequate funding, staffing and resources, all of which he said limit their ability to conduct thorough analysis and research.

“Despite the widely held belief, the House and its committees are grossly underfunded, making it nearly impossible for them to function optimally. Anyone familiar with the inner workings of the legislature knows the quantum of resources required to undertake robust oversight adequately, hire experts and consultants, undertake inspection visits and draft quality legislation.

“Ironically, while Nigerians expect the best representation from the National Assembly and its members, they do not always understand that this is only possible through adequate funding.”

Abbas, while noting that the theme of the retreat was, ‘Improving Legislative Performance through Effective Committee Management,’ said it was deliberately chosen to provide a comprehensive understanding of the tasks ahead, especially for many of those who were taking up these legislative responsibilities for the first time.

“The legislature is central to our democracy, and a strong House is integral to ensuring that governance is conducted in an open, accountable, and representative manner.

“As chairmen and deputy chairmen of various committees, we must ensure that the House delivers on its Legislative Agenda. All committees should study the relevant sections of the Agenda and incorporate them into their work plans.

“You are encouraged to rely on the Agenda and generate bills, motions and other legislative interventions. The success of the Agenda hinges on the efficiency, effectiveness, and integrity of our committees,” he added.

The Deputy Speaker, Hon Benjamin Okezie Kalu during his remarks stated that at the heart of Nigeria’s parliamentary democracy was the House of Representatives, “an institution tasked with the solemn responsibility of representing the will of the Nigerian people.”

Kalu, noted that the committees of the House, as the engines of legislative oversight, play a pivotal role in scrutinising government policies, investigating public misconduct, and ensuring that the executive branch remains accountable to the people.

Chief of Staff to the President, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila while speaking said the federal government budget would be presented to the National Assembly “in a matter of days.”

He urged leaders and members of the standing committees to unite while scrutinising the budgetary proposals during defence sessions noting that committees were key to the legislative process and further urged the chairmen and their deputies to work harmoniously.

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