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I signed revised 2020 budget to mitigate Covid-19 effect, says Buhari

By Terhemba Daka, Abuja
11 July 2020   |   3:40 am
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, signed into law, the revised N10.8 trillion budget for the year 2020 passed by the National Assembly in June.

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President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, signed into law, the revised N10.8 trillion budget for the year 2020 passed by the National Assembly in June.

In his remarks, President Buhari said the revised Appropriation Act 2020 became necessary in response to recent developments, in particular, the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“Crude oil prices in the world market declined sharply from a high of $72.20 per barrel in January 2020 to below $20 per barrel in April 2020, and have since remained around $40 per barrel.

“Nigeria’s crude oil production quota has been reduced as part of the efforts of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to strengthen the oil market. Global trade has generally been disrupted as almost all economies were locked down for protracted periods in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Osinbajo, Lawan and Gbajabiamila witness the signing of the amended 2020 budget by Buhari<br />which was necessitated by the unforeseen COVID pandemic and its effect on revenue projections and the national economy. Photo: TWITTER/FEMIGBAJA

“All these developments are plunging the global economy into recession, and Nigeria has not escaped the impact of this.

“In effect, the assumptions underlying the 2020 Appropriation Act are no longer sustainable.

“It is therefore imperative to adjust our expected revenues, considering the widespread disruptions in domestic and international economic activities due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the containment measures taken in response thereto.

“Understandably too, we needed to reallocate resources in the Appropriation (Repeal and Amendment) Act, 2020 to ensure effective implementation of required health and emergency measures, as well as to mitigate the negative socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“The 2020 Amended Budget, which I have just signed into law today, underscores our Administration’s firm commitment to effectively contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the lives and livelihood of our people. With these budget amendments, as well as our recently launched N2.3 trillion Stimulus Programme, we are well-positioned to safeguard the economy.

“Considering recent budget implementation challenges, I have directed that efforts be made to ensure effective implementation of the Appropriation (Repeal and Amendment) Act, 2020 in order to realise its laudable objectives.

“All Ministers are to ensure that their Ministries, Departments and Agencies intensify capital project delivery efforts and fully cooperate with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to achieve the laudable objectives of the Budget.

“We have, nevertheless, made some progress in the implementation of the Appropriation Act 2020. As at 31st May 2020, the sum of N253.33b has been released for the implementation of capital projects.

“The Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is in the process of effecting budgetary releases that will ensure that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies receive at least 50 per cent of their amended capital budgets by the end of this month.

“The Appropriation (Repeal and Amendment) Act, 2020, that I have just signed into law, provides for aggregate expenditures of N10.81 trillion, which is an increase of N216 billion over the level of expenditure initially proposed in the 2020 Appropriation Act. The Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will provide further details of the 2020 Amended Budget.”

Corroborating Buhari while fielding questions from newsmen, President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan said the National Assembly had to pass the revised fiscal document without delay in order to mitigate and cushion the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the suffering Nigerians.

“The significance of that is to tell you that the National Assembly has worked with the Executive arm of government to get this document put together as it was required of us and today the President signed, as you’ve witnessed, and that means that we have implemented the Appropriation 2020 Act up to the end of May.

“Now, you have an amended or revised Appropriation Act, 2020 and the implementation of this will start immediately, probably from today.

“That means that we’ll be addressing the challenges of COVID-19 Pandemic because the essence of the revision was, first of all, to address the problem of the shortfall in revenues and secondly to ensure that the challenges posed by the pandemic are addressed, bringing a lot of palliatives and economic opportunities for Nigerians.”

“This is of interest to us in the National Assembly because we believe Nigerians at this time need a lot of support, both as individuals and businesses. Going forward, we believe that the implementation of this year’s budget, in total, will be much higher than we have ever witnessed previously because we have started the implementation from January.

“The 2020 Revised Appropriation Act, which the President signed, is also an additional impetus to what we are focusing; we want 2021 Budget that will be a consolidation of our performance here. The COVID-19 impacts will continue for some time.

“So, this will set the foundation for us to avoid falling into recession next year. Though growth may be slow or low, the definite thing that this particular budget will do is to ensure that we don’t go into a pitfall of a recession that will make it difficult for us to come out.

“Growth may be negative, but the guarantee we have is that if we are able to implement this budget, probably expenditure is sustained, the economy will be a little bit better than ordinarily, it would be. We hope we are able to achieve this by December and already, the 2021 Appropriation Bill process has started.”

The signing of the budget took place inside the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja and witnessed by Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari as well as the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila among other principal officers.

Others were the Ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; Minister of State Finance, Clement Agba, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emiefile and Director General Budget, Ben Akabueze.