UPDATE: Buhari signs 2020 budget

• Plans to send borrowing plan to NASS

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, signed the 2020 budget into law.

He assented to the N10.594trillion package in his office at the presidential villa, Abuja.

The ceremony was witnessed among others, by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

Following the signing of the deficit budget, he announced his plan to send a borrowing plan bill for passage by the National Assembly.

He also requested for the lawmakers’ virement of some aspects in view of the adjustments they made to the original amount he proposed.

The 2020 Budget passed by the National Assembly provides for aggregate expenditures of N10.594 trillion, an increase of N263.95 billion over the Executive’s proposal that was submitted in October 2019.

Speaking after giving his assent to the document, Buhari noted that with today’s global oil market outlook and his administration’s strategic approach to revenue growth, there was optimism that government will be able to finance the 2020 Budget.

He added: “However, being a deficit budget, an appropriate 2020 – 2022 Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly, in due course.”

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He appealed to the National Assembly for cooperation and support in the speedy passage of the borrowing plan.

The president said the government has examined the adjustments and may revert to the National Assembly with a request for a Virement or other relevant amendments.

Buhari noted the “pleasant” coincidence of his signing the budget on his 77th birthday, thanking the leadership of the National Assembly and members for attending to the 2020 Appropriation Bill expeditiously.

He said: “You will recall, that I laid the 2020 Appropriation Bill before the Joint Session of the National Assembly on 8th October 2019 and forwarded the 2019 Finance Bill shortly thereafter.

“I am very pleased that the National Assembly worked uncommonly long hours in the interest of our people and the national economy to ensure detailed legislative review and passage of the Budget within two months.

“This patriotic zeal adopted by the Ninth National Assembly has restored our budget cycle to a predictable January to December fiscal year.

“Furthermore, in the twenty years since the return to civilian democracy, this will be just the fourth time that the Federal Budget was passed before the end of the previous year, and this is the earliest.

“The passage of the Finance Bill, which I am told will be done in the coming days, will also be a landmark achievement worthy of recognition, being the first time, this has been done in the last twenty years.

“We look forward to receiving this Bill, shortly, for Presidential Assent. Once passed into law, the Finance Bill will support the funding and implementation of the 2020 Budget. We shall sustain this tradition by ensuring that subsequent budgets are also accompanied by a Finance Bill.

“For these achievements, I must, therefore, congratulate and thank the Distinguished Senate President, the Right Honourable Speaker and indeed, all members of the Federal Legislature for their commitment and support.

“I equally thank the Ninth National Assembly for supporting important legislations such as the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Amendment Act and the 2019 Finance Bill. These laws are vital to the successful implementation of the 2020 Budget.

“I am aware of the regular high-level discussions that took place, between senior officials of the Executive and the Legislature during this period. I commend this renewed partnership, the mutual understanding as well as collaboration between these two arms of government.

“Now, we are well-positioned to effectively implement the budget and deliver our promises to Nigerians. Businesses will also benefit as they are now in a position to plan more effectively.

“We have to sustain this harmonious working relationship. I expect that going forward, this will be the norm.

“I have directed that efforts be made to ensure the presentation of the 2021 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly in September 2020. I am confident that all Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies will cooperate with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to keep to this timeline.

“I will work with the Ninth National Assembly to give effect to the constitutional, legislative and other actions that may be necessary to address the various challenges currently associated with our federal budgeting process, including the enactment of an Organic Budget Bill.”

The president also said that to optimize the desired impact, he had directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and all Federal MDAs to ensure effective implementation of the 2020 Budget.

He acknowledged the efforts of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the Budget Office of the Federation, and all stakeholders, who he said, collaborated and worked painstakingly, to produce the 2020 Appropriation Bill, that I have just signed into law.

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