*Works, Housing and Transport top allocations.
By Ignatius Okorocha, Gift Chapi
As exclusively reported by The AUTHORITY on Wednesday, the National Assembly yesterday passed the increased 2018 budget of N9.120 trillion instead of the N8.612 trillion sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 8, 2017.
While earlier information accessed by The AUTHORITY showed that the budget was N410 billion higher than the one sent to the two chambers of the National Assembly by Buhari, the version passed yesterday was N508 billion above the Appropriation Bill.
The increase in the Appropriation Bill, the Senate said was largely informed by the increase in oil benchmark of $6 to bring it to $51 per barrel.
At the House of Representatives, the lawmakers passed the budget with a caveat that the Executive arm of government must not engage in extra- budgetary spending unless through supplementary appropriation.
The Conference Committee Report on the budget was laid on Tuesday by the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, Hon. Mustapha Dawaki.
A breakdown of the budget placed aggregate expenditure at N9.120 trillion. Statutory Transfers – N530.421 billlion; Debt Service – N2.20 trillion; Recurrent Expenditure – N3.512 trillion; Capital Expenditure -N2.873 trillion; Fiscal Deficit -N1.954 trillion, and Deficit to GDP – N1.73 trillion.
Others are reduction in deficit – N50.88 billion; Security – N46.72 billion; Health -N57.15 billion; Power, Works and Housing – N106.50 billion.
The education sector with emphasis on infrastructure for the 12-newly established universities and meal subsidy for Unity Schools, got N15.70 billion; Judiciary – N10 billion, and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) – N44.20 billion.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje, said that the increase in the budget was due to the additional $6 to the $45per barrel as contained in the earlier benchmark proposal by the Executive bringing it to $51 per barrel.
Goje said that National Assembly in its wisdom increased the budget in collaboration with the Executive based on interventions made in agencies such as the NDDC, which got additional N44.2 billion, to offset its debts and the Judiciary, which received additional N10 billion.
Further insight into the budget showed that critical infrastructural projects such as Power, Works and Housing, as well as Transportation, got the highest capital allocation of N2.873 trillion.
The Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing got the highest allocation of N682.309 billion, followed by Transportation, N251.420 billion, N157.715 billion for Defence, N149.198 billion for Agriculture and Rural Development, N147.200 billion for Water Resources, and N102.907 billion for Education, while N150 billion was set for Special Intervention Programme.
The National Assembly got N139.5 billion, National Judicial Council (NJC) was allocated N110 billion, as against the N100 billion approved by President Buhari.
The part payment to NDDC outstanding liabilities on Federal Government got N33.98 billion, while NNDC received N81.883 billion. Universal Basic Education got N109.064 billion, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) – N45.5 billion, National Human Rights Commission – N3.014 billion, while Public Complaints Commission got N7.48 billion.
Of the N2.014 trillion allotted to debt serving, N1.760 trillion is for domestic debts while N254.080 trillion goes to foreign debts and an additional N190 billion is for sinking fund to retire matured loans.
From the total sum of N3.513 trillion approved for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure, the Federal Ministry of Interior got the highest allocation of N501.610 billion, followed by N439.256 billion for Education; N419 billion for Defence; N269.965 billion for Health; N110.842 billion for Youth and Sports Development; N76.025 for the Office of the National Security Adviser; N63.53 billion for Petroleum Resources and N63.114 billion for Foreign Affairs.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said there was still room for improvement in the area of cooperation and collaboration between the executive and the legislature.