President Muhammadu Buhari stated yesterday that if the National Assembly did not approve N23.7 trillion in extra-budgetary spending, it would cost the federal government N1.8 trillion in interest.
Fidel Info reports that the President added that his administration has included sufficient funding in the 2023 budget to ensure the smooth running of the upcoming general elections and the transition plan.
Recall that Buhari had asked the National Assembly to approve a certain amount that he said came from loans made by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over a ten-year period for emergencies.
After a boisterous session last week, the Senate put the President’s proposal on hold because Senators Betty Apiafi and Thompson Sekibo claimed it was unconstitutional.
Additionally, they required that the Senate receive information on how the money was used before it could approve the request.
Buhari, however, stated that he had no plan to challenge the lawmakers’ decision while addressing during the signing ceremony for the N21.83 trillion 2023 budget at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said: “I also urge the National Assembly to reconsider its position on my proposal to securitize the federal government’s outstanding Ways and Means balance at the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
“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 three percent and the negotiated interest rate of nine percent and a 40-year repayment period on the securitized debt of the Ways and Means.”
The President also accused the National Assembly of introducing N770.72 billion new projects into the 2023 budget proposal he submitted, adding that the national legislative body increased the provisions made by Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, MDAs, by N58.55 billion.
He said the aggregate expenditure of N21.83 trillion was an increase of N1.32 trillion over the initial executive proposal for a total expenditure of N20.51 trillion.
He explained that the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act would enable the administration respond to the havoc caused by the recent nationwide floods on infrastructure and agriculture sectors, and asked the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to subsequently provide more details of the approved budget and the supporting 2022 Finance Act.
”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, showed additional revenue of N765.79 billion, and an unfunded deficit of N553.46 billion.”
”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 (MDAs) by N58.55 billion,” he said.
Buhari said his decision to sign the 2023 Appropriation Bill into law as passed by the National Assembly was to enable its implementation to commence without delay, considering the imminent transition process to another democratically elected government.
He, however, 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.
He urged the National Assembly to reconsider its position on his proposal to securitize the Federal Government’s outstanding Ways and Means of balance at the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
Buhari thanked the National Assembly for approving his request for an extension of its validity date to March 31, 2023.
He directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning to work towards the early release of the 2023 capital votes to enable Ministries, Departments and Agencies to 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.
Reiterating that the 2023 Budget was developed to promote fiscal sustainability, macroeconomic stability and ensure a smooth transition to the incoming administration, the President said it was also designed to promote social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy.
He pledged that adequate provisions had been made in the budget for the successful conduct of the forthcoming general elections and the transition program.
According to him, “As I mentioned during the presentation of the 2023 Appropriation Bill, the budget was developed to promote fiscal sustainability, macroeconomic stability, and ensure smooth transition to the incoming administration.
“The budget was also designed to promote social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy. Adequate provisions have been made in the 2023 Budget for the successful conduct of the forth-coming general elections and the transition program.”
On achieving revenue targets for the budget, the President directed MDAs and Government Owned Enterprises, GOEs, to intensify their revenue mobilization efforts, including ensuring that all taxable organizations and individuals pay taxes due.
To achieve the objectives of the 2023 Budget, he said relevant agencies must sustain current efforts toward the realization of crude oil production and export targets.
”To augment available fiscal resources, MDAs are to accelerate the implementation of Public Private Partnership initiatives, especially those designed to fast-track the pace of our infrastructure development.”
On the Finance Bill 2022, the President expressed regrets that its review, as passed by the National Assembly, was yet to be finalized.
”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 assent law,” he said.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, assured that the National Assembly would work to ensure increased funds for the government and reduce the rate of deficit in the budget.
“But that is not to say that we should raise taxes that will be out of the roof to cause problems 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 the government and also ensuring that the deficit budget is minimized in the next assembly by the grace of God,” he said.
On his part, speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, denied any padding or jerking up of the budget, explaining that the lawmakers had done very well in meeting their constitutional mandate.
“If you understand constitutional democracy, there are different layers of government and it’s called separation of powers. Ours is for us to receive proposals and that’s why they’re called proposals anywhere in the world.”
“The National Assembly has done very well in meeting its constitutional mandate. It takes all arms of government to be on board to give a true working document for the country. The executive did everything they could; and we have even a wider view, a bird’s eye view of what’s going on in all the agencies.”
”We have also complemented what the executive has done. It’s all for the good of the country and that’s what we’ve done,” he said.
APC Gives Fresh Appointments To Bisi Akande, Gbajabiamila, Indimi, Abdulsamad Rabiu, Others (Full List)
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has named some of its stalwarts as chairmen and members of its standing committees.
According to a statement signed by the party’s National Secretary, Senator Ajibola Basiru, the listed names were appointed into Standing Committees on Establishment, Finance, Publicity, Intergovernmental, Conflict and Reconciliation.
Fedelinfo reports that some of those named include Chief Bisi Akande who chairs the Conflict and Reconciliation Committee with Aminu Masari as the deputy chairman and Nkem Okeke as the secretary.
Similarly, Uguru Matthew Ofoke was named as the chairman of the APC Finance Committee while members include the Chairman and founder of BUA Cement, Abdulsamad Rabiu, chairman of Oriental Energy Resources, Mohammed Indimi; Chairman of Bet9ja, Kunle Soname; Tein Jack Rich and others.
Senate President, Godswill Akpabio; Speaker, House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas; Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy, Wale Edun; Governor Hope Uzodimma; James Faleke, Solomon Adeola, and Femi Pedro were also listed as members of the finance committee.
The Publicity Committee is chaired by Felix Morka while Minister of Information and Strategy, Muhammad Idris; Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to the President, Bayo Onanuga, among others are members of the committee.
The statement said the Standing Committees would be inaugurated on Wednesday, 6 December, 2023 at the APC National Secretariat, Abuja
KWSG Kicks Against Street Begging Says, roaming of mentally challenged persons, socially appalling
The Kwara state Government in its concerted effort to rid the state of all societal menace and vices, has described begging and roaming the streets by people with mental challenges as condemnable and socially appalling.
This was expressed by the Commissioner for Social Development, Hon. Opeyemi Oluwakemi Afolashade during the recently concluded general evacuation exercise carried out by the Ministry within the State capital.
Hon. Afolashade lamented the menace of persistent street begging regarded as a viable business venture among some people, despite a series of dialogue, media sensitisation, and numerous social interventions of the government to the physically challenged and vulnerable in the State.
“The evacuation exercise is part of the Ministry’s responsibilities and a means to further ensure that the society is cleansed from any form of societal menace, thereby promoting environmental hygiene and values for the state”, the Commissioner emphasized.
She explained further that Kwara State would not condone street begging as it is against the law of the state; depicts laziness, while the roaming of mentally challenged persons also pose serious danger to the society.
Hon. Afolashade, during the excercise, reiterated that the exercise would be continuous, adding that the Ministry would no longer take the menace with levity, warning all those involved to desist or be ready to face the wrath of law.
Meanwhile, in the course of the exercise, there were resistance and physical assaults on the officers of the Ministry, but Officers of the Civil Defense were on ground to restore normalcy.
The Commissioner thus appreciated the pro-activeness and expertise demonstrated by the officers during the exercise while seeking the Corps continued support in subsequent assignments.
The evacuation team toured the Post Office/Taiwo-Isale, Tipper garage , Challenge/Unity road and Challenge/GRA axis of the State capital and evacuated no fewer than 88 mentally challenged persons and beggars who were taken to one of the Ministry’s Rehabilitation homes for treatment, prosecution and possible repatriation.
Aiyedatiwa to preside over Ondo Exco meeting Thursday
Peace may be returning to the Ondo State Executive Council as it holds its meeting today in Akure, the state capital, after three months.
Deputy Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa will preside over the meeting, which is the first since the warring camps endorsed a peace deal at a reconciliation meeting hosted in Abuja by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the weekend.
However, some elite are kicking against the resolution that the deputy governor should submit an undated letter of resignation.
Commissioner for Information and Orientation Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, who confirmed the scheduled meeting, said the deputy governor will preside as vice chairman.
But, the commissioner could not confirm to reporters last night whether Aiyedatiwa has returned to Akure, although sources hinted that he had returned from Abuja where he spent some weeks while battling to starve off the impeachment proceedings by the House of Assembly.
He got a reprieve at the peace meeting where the House of Assembly was directed to drop the impeachment plan.
A source said: “Exco meeting will be held about three months after the last meeting was held in Ibadan, presided over by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, when he returned from medical vacation in September.
“The exco meeting that will be held on Thursday (today) shows that everyone is sticking with the resolution reached with Tinubu.
“All that we are focused on is the development of Ondo State, and that should be paramount in the minds of all of us at the moment.”
A group, Concerned Elite of Ondo State, led by Dr. Olanrewaju Akeredolu, has faulted the resolution that Aiyedatiwa should sign a post-dated letter of resignation.
It also said it was unconstitutional to ask unelected political office holders to monitor elected official.
The group chided the Speaker of the Ondo Assembly, Olamide Oladiji, for reading the resolution on the floor of the Assembly, saying that President Tinubu could not have given an order that contradicted the letter and spirit of the constitution.
It also accused the Speaker of twisting facts to suit a certain interest by asserting that there was no agreement to transfer power to Aiyedatiwa.
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