Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, (Senate), Senator Ita Enang explained that the delay in the passage of the budget and the rise in the price of oil in the international market contributed to the change in the size of the budget.
Senator Enang further stated that the additional amount would be applied to capital projects while reducing deficit. He also said government would not dwell much on controversial issues in the budget.
He stated: “When you submit the budget to the legislature, if there are indices that change in the budget, the budget can also change.
“The increase in the budget was discussed between us the executive and the legislature because oil price was about $55- $58 per barrel when we submitted the budget.
“At the time the budget was ready to be passed, oil price rose to about $70- $71 per barrel and the executive and the legislature teams met and said we can raise the benchmark from Mr. President’s proposed benchmark of $45 per barrel to $50 per barrel.
“So, that makes some money available and, of course, we had intended that the budget should be passed by December. Budget, having not been passed by December 2017 to January 2018, there were some other sources of revenue which came in.
“We agreed with the legislature that part of it should be applied towards reducing deficit and some applied to some capital projects and that is the reason the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, made some submissions on some capital projects to the Appropriations Committee of the National Assembly, the Senate and House of Representatives and passed them to the Appropriations Committee which has been accommodated to a greater extent.
“We are not at this time going to get into discrepancy whether the budget was increased rightly or wrongly, we are only going to look at what Mr President directed us to look at in terms of budget details.”
Recall that the National Assembly had last Wednesday, passed the 2018 Appropriation Bill of N9,120,334,988,225 for the 2018 fiscal year, representing an increase of N508 billion from the N8.612 trillion proposal presented to the joint National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari late last year.
The harmonized report of the Appropriations Bill by the Conference Committee of the two chambers was transmitted to the presidency at the weekend for the President’s assent.
Presenting the details of the 2018 Appropriation Bill for consideration at the Senate during plenary, Chairman of the Senate committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje, APC, Gombe Central, explained that the six perc ent increase of the budget estimates was done in consultation with the executive arm of government.
The 2018 Appropriation Bill, the largest in the nation’s history, is premised on key revenue assumptions of oil price benchmark of $51; crude oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day and exchange rate of N305/$1USD.