President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday signed the 2023 Budget of N21.83tn along with the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Bill into law.
Buhari signed the 2023 transition budget at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, in the presence of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and other members of the Federal Executive Council.
Speaking at the event, the President said his regime would speed up critical infrastructure projects nationwide as it raced toward the finish line on May 29, 2023.
He noted that the budget is N21.83 trillion aggregate expenditure, an increase N1.32 trillion over the initial executive proposal of N20.51 trillion.
It is the eighth and final budget of his regime.
While commending the National Assembly for its near-seamless relationship with the executive arm, Buhari urged the legislature to reconsider its stance on his proposal to securitise the Federal Government’s outstanding Ways and Means balance at the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Failure to grant the securitisation approval, he warned, would cost the government about N1.8tn in additional interest in 2023 and a 40-year repayment period on the securitised debt.
Buhari’s appeal comes barely one week after the Senate rejected his request to restructure the N22.7tn Ways and Means advances.
He said the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act would enable his regime to respond to the havoc caused by the recent nationwide floods on infrastructure and agriculture sectors.
As is customary, he noted the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will subsequently provide more details of the approved budget and the supporting 2022 Finance Act.
Buhari said: ”We have examined the changes made by the National Assembly to the 2023 Executive Budget proposal.
”The amended fiscal framework for 2023 as approved by the National Assembly shows additional revenues of N765.79bn, and an unfunded deficit of N553.46bn.
”It is clear that the National Assembly and the executive need to capture some of the proposed additional revenue sources in the fiscal framework. This must be rectified.
”I have also noted that the National Assembly introduced new projects into the 2023 budget proposal for which it has appropriated N770.72 billion. The National Assembly also increased the provisions made by Ministries, Departments and Agencies by N58.55 billion.”
According to the President, his decision to sign the 2023 Appropriation Bill into law as passed by the National Assembly was to enable swift implementation considering the imminent transition process to another democratically elected government.
However, he directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to engage with the Legislature to revisit some of the changes made to the Executive budget proposal, expressing the hope that the National Assembly would cooperate with the Executive arm of Government in this regard.
While urging the National Assembly to reconsider its position on his proposal to securitise the FG’s outstanding Ways and Means balance at the CBN, Buhari made it clear that he had no intention to circumvent the NASS’ powers to interrogate the process.
”As I stated, the balance has accumulated over several years and represents funding provided by the CBN as lender of last resort to the government to enable it to meet obligations to lenders, as well as cover budgetary shortfalls in projected revenues and/or borrowings.
”I have no intention to fetter the right of the National Assembly to interrogate the composition of this balance, which can still be done even after granting the requested approval.
”Failure to grant the securitization approval will however cost the government about N1.8 trillion in additional interest in 2023 given the differential between the applicable interest rates which is currently MPR plus 3 per cent and the negotiated interest rate of 9% and a 40year repayment period on the securitised debt of the Ways and Means,” said the President.
He thanked the National Assembly for approving his request for an extension of its validity date to March 31, 2023.
The President also directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to work towards early release of the 2023 capital votes to enable Ministries, Departments and Agencies commence the implementation of their capital projects in good time to support efforts to deliver key projects and public services as well as improve the living conditions of Nigerians.
He said that the 2023 Budget was developed to promote fiscal sustainability, macroeconomic stability and ensure smooth transition to the incoming Administration, adding that it was also designed to promote social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy.
He pledged that the budget contained adequate provision for the successful conduct of the forthcoming general election and the transition programme.
On achieving revenue targets for the budget, the President directed MDAs and Government Owned Enterprises to intensify their revenue mobilization efforts, including ensuring that all taxable organisations and individuals pay taxes due.
To achieve the objectives of the 2023 Budget, Buhari said relevant Agencies must sustain current efforts towards the realisation of crude oil production and export targets.
He said, “To augment available fiscal resources, the MDAs are to accelerate the implementation of Public Private Partnership initiatives, especially those designed to fast-track the pace of our infrastructural development.
”This, being a deficit budget, the associated Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly.
“I count on the cooperation of the National Assembly for a speedy consideration and approval of the Plan.”
On the Finance Bill 2022, the President expressed regret that its review as passed by the National Assembly had yet to be finalised.
”This is because some of the changes made by the National Assembly need to be reviewed by the relevant agencies of government. I urge that this should be done speedily to enable me to assent into law,” he said.
Buhari thanked the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and all the distinguished and honourable leaders and members of the National Assembly for the expeditious consideration and passage of the Appropriation Bill.
In his remarks, Senate President Lawan promised that the NASS would reconsider its stance on the Ways and Means advance.
But it would do so based on sufficient data.
Lawan also noted that implementing the 2023 budget would require considerable internal resource mobilisation in the next five months, stressing that the legislature would revisit all existing tax waivers and vet the eligibility of all beneficiaries.
This, he said, would form part of efforts to raise revenue without yoking Nigerians with more taxes.
“Ours is for us to focus on the next five months. We still have something worthwhile to do, even though both chambers have done almost all of what we considered our legislative agenda.
“But Nigeria faces challenges of revenue. And this is going to be our focus. This is going to be what the National Assembly, both chambers, will ensure that we get revenues, we find more sources, better sources, stabilise resources and of course, look into some of the legislations and some of the waivers and concessions granted to see whether or not they deserve to continue to be implemented in a manner they were approved. Or we need to reverse that because we need money in our country.
“But that is not to say that we should raise taxes that will be out of the roof as to cause problem for our citizens. But I believe that as a National Assembly, in the next five months, we must be looking at increasing the funds available to government and also ensuring that deficit budget is minimised in the next Assembly by the grace of God,” Lawan explained.
On Buhari’s request to securitise the Ways and Means advance, Lawan said “We are already considering that but let me tell you where the problem is.
“While we are trying to consider and pass the request, we will insist on getting the right documents for our committees to ensure that whatever they advise us to do in the in the two chambers are based on information and knowledge and not just passing ways and means without knowing what it is.”
Lawan, had revealed to journalists at the weekend after a closed-door meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, that the President would sign the 2023 budget Tuesday.
Lawan said, “We are looking forward to Mr President signing the Appropriation Bill 2023, by the grace of God, on Tuesday.
“This because we signed the documents yesterday, having lost some time because of some anomalous figures we had in the bill presented to the National Assembly.
“But thank God, the National Assembly, in both chambers, has passed the Appropriation Bill 2023 on Wednesday, and I’m sure that Mr. President and his team, on the executive side will work on what we have done. And the first thing on Tuesday, the first official working day of the year, I believe that Mr. President will be signing the Appropriation Bill 2023.”