*Interior Ministry tops the table by N569.07billion
*Education (N462.24 billion) and Health (N315.62 billion)
*Proposes Oil subsidy 305bn
*proposes N500bn for minimum wage increase
By Ignatius Okorocha
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday presented a budget proposal estimate of N8.83 trillion for the 2019 fiscal year to a joint session of Senate and House of Representatives amidst Jeering of “No,”It’s a lair etc by the opposition lawmakers.
The president who walked into the hallowed chamber of the House of Representatives at about 12.40pmamidst rowdy joint session of Senate and House of Representative unveiled the 2019 Appropriation Bill to the lawmakers.
The 2019 total budget estimate is N300 billion lower than the N9.1 billion being implemented for the current fiscal year.
According to Buhari, N4.04 trillion or 50.31 per cent is earmarked for recurrent expenditure and N2.03 trillion representing 22.98 per cent for capital projects.
Other estimates are N492.36 billion for statutory transfers, N2.14 trillion for debt servicing and provision of N120 billion as sinking fund.
He explained that the sinking fund would be used to “retire maturing bonds to local contractors”.
The 2019 budget proposal is based on Oil benchmark of $60per barrel, an oil production estimate of 2.3 million barrels per day and an exchange rate of N305 per dollar.
Other benchmarks are real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 3.01 per cent and inflation rate of 9.98 per cent.
The total projected revenue, according to the president, is N6.97 trillion, which is three per cent lower than the 2018 estimate of N7.17 trillion.
Buhari said the expected income consisted of oil revenue projected at N3.73 trillion, and non-oil revenue estimated at N1.39 trillion.
“The estimate from non-oil revenue consists of N799.52 billion from company income tax; N229.34 billion from value added tax, and customs duties of N302.5 billion.
“We have reduced our expectations from independent revenue N624.58 billion.
“Other revenues expected in 2019 include various recoveries of N203.38 billion; N710 billion as proceeds from the restructuring of government equity in joint ventures, and other sundry incomes of N104.1 billion,” he said.
The president explained that the total N8.83 trillion proposed expenditure for 2019 included grants and donor funds amounting to N209.92 billion.
Buhari said although the 2019 estimate was lower than the 2018 budget of N9.1 trillion, it was higher than the N8.6 trillion originally proposed by the executive to the National Assembly.
The budget deficit is projected to decrease to N1.86 trillion or 1.3 per cent of the GDP in 2019 from N1.95 trillion projected for 2018.
“This reduction is in line with our plan to progressively reduce deficit and borrowings over the medium term,” he said.
On sectoral allocation, the president said the Ministry of Interior would get N569.07billion, Defence (N435.62 billion), Education (N462.24 billion) and Health (N315.62 billion).
Similarly, Trouble had started so early before the arrival of President Buhari for event as the chant of ‘freedom cometh by struggle by struggle, freedom come’ had pervaded every corner of the green chamber before the budget session just after the lawmakers emerged from an executive session on the annual ritual.
But the green chamber became more rowdy as China and other PDP lawmakers shouted ‘lies, propaganda, “campaign speech’ during budget session that lasted 2 and 1/2 hours which interrupted the president’s speech intermittently.
Buhari who arrived at the joint session the 109 Senators and 360 honourable members of the House of Representatives at about 12. 38 pm had presented a budget proposal of #8.83 trillion for 2019 fiscal year for consideration and approval of the lawmakers.
But Buhari could hardly be heard during the budget speech as the opposition lawmakers shouted on top of their voices chanting ‘lies, propaganda, campaign speech’ implying that all the president had said at the session is not the
truth on the 2019 Budget christened consolidation budget, the President said that the past three and half years had been the most challenging for his administration as oil production, insecurity and recession had affected the nation’s progress negatively.
While rolling up his administration’s achievements within the period under review, the president stated that oil production in the country is currently enmeshed in crisis as oil prices remains unpredictable. He also said that there were reported cases of insecurity in many parts of the country but insisted that the nation marching in progress.
According to him, his government had made sustained efforts in tackling insurgency in the north-east region of the country and added that conflict between herdsmen and pastoralists had been effectivel contained and prevented from escalation.
He said that the Federal Government of Nigeria under him had made progress in many sectors namely: agriculture, infrastructure, education, security, social intervention and anti-corruption.
On infrastructure development, he said that his administration had commenced rehabilitation work on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway as well as dualization of Abuja-Keffi-Makurdi and Suleja-Minna road projects.
On the water sector, he said that his government had discovered 116 abandoned water projects which had been revived and completed in many parts of the country.
He further revealed that N65 billion is earmarked for Niger Delta Amnesty programme, N15 billion is set aside for the revitalization of banks of Industry and Agriculture and N222 million for basic healthcare services.
Meanwhile,Members of PDP caucus in the House of Representatives yesterday condemned president Muhammad Buharis administration over what they termed as poor implementation of budget since 2015, terming it as ” Yet another Ritual”
Briefing journalist immediately after the presentation of the 2019 budget by president Buhari, the PDP deputy minority leader, Chukuwka Onyeama with other memebers of the PDP caucus said that ” since 2015, it has been an unfortunate harvest of lies, blames and propaganda while it’s overhyped campaign promises of security, economic growth and war against corruption have remained a mirage.
” The 2016 Budget of Change presented by president Buhari on December 2015changed nothing while he found a way to heap the blame for 2015 national budgets under performanve on the previous administration.
The 2017 budget of recovery and growth dismally failed to spur appreciable growth or adequately stimulate private sector confidence for investments.
The 2018 9.12 trillion budget, the largest in Nigerias history seemed to have only succeeded more in consolidating poverty and want among Nigerian populace.
Reacting to the rowdy session on the floor, spokes person of the house of representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas stated that what happend on the floor of the house was democracy in action, adding that nothing was abnormal about it.
” While the ruling party was hailing the President, opposition was expressing anger but at the end of the day, the President presented the budget .
“The President has also directed that all recovered accept will be disposed and also the minimum wage was captured, that is a welcomed development. However, we will urge the executive to do more,” he said.
However, leader of the Senate, Ahmed Lawn and Chief Whip, Prof. Adeshola Adeyeye in separate reactions condemned their colleagues behaviors at the president saying it was unparliamentary.
According to them the inability of the speaker of the House of Representatives to deliver his speech(vote of thanks) before President Buhari because of the unruly interruption by lawmakers which has never happened before was must unfortunate.