By Our Correspondent
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, December 31, signed the 2021 Appropriation Act, as well as the 2021 Finance Act.
The President signed both documents during a brief ceremony, held in the Executive Council Chambers of Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, five days after the Budget was transmitted back to him by the National Assembly.
The National Assembly had on December 21, 2020, passed the 2021 Appropriation Bill with an aggregate expenditure of N13, 588, 027,886, 175 trillion.
It comprises total Capital Supplementation of N1,060,751,051,650 and total Capital Expenditure of N4,125,149,354,222, Statutory Transfer stands at N496,528,471,273; recurrent Expenditure of N5,641,970,060,680 and Gross Domestic Product, GDP growth rate of 3.00 Percent.
The National Assembly also provided the sum of N3,324,380,000 trillion for debt servicing.
The lawmakers increased the budget estimate by the sum of N505, 607,317,942 from the estimate of N13, 082, 420, 568,233 presented to the joint sitting of National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on October 8, 2020.
Present with the President to witness the ceremony were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, among others.
Meanwhile, in the speech he made during the ceremony, President Buhari explained that in designing the 2021 Budget, the government deliberately chose to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy, reiterating that it will accelerate the economic recovery process, promote social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy.
“As you are all aware, our economy recently lapsed into its second recession in four years. I mentioned during the presentation of the 2021 Appropriation Bill that we intend to use the budget to accelerate our economic recovery process, promote social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy. All Ministers are to ensure that their supervised Ministries, Departments and Agencies achieve the objectives set for their sectors.”
According to him, the 2021 Budget designed to stimulate domestic economic activities, create jobs and help in delivering the administration’s legacy projects.
In order to be able to fully fund the budget, the President charged all revenue-generating agencies and all ministries, departments and agencies to do all to meet their target revenue generation plans.
He said the administration is intensifying domestic revenue mobilisation so there would be enough to fund the budget.
In this regard, he warned heads of agencies and departments that have not been meeting their assigned targets to buckle up as sanctions would henceforth attend non-performance.
He also charged all Nigerians, especially those in the business class, to fulfill their own responsibility in the task of realising the goals of the budget by ensuring prompt payment of their taxes.
On budget implementation and monitoring, the President charged civil society organizations to play their natural role of monitoring implementation, even as he directed ministries and government agencies to scale up their monitoring and implementation mechanisms.
“The 2021 Budget is very critical to
the delivery of the legacy projects of our Administration. To fully achieve our objectives, the effective implementation of the 2021 Budget is imperative.
“Therefore, I have directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning should adopt all necessary measures in this regard to achieve the objectives
of the Budget, including the targeted release of capital votes.
“During the year, I expect that we would be able to significantly reduce the adverse impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the cost and availability of basic food items, as well as other key commodities, in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders.
“I also expect that the 2021 Budget will stimulate domestic economic activities and create employment opportunities, especially for our youth.
“We are intensifying our domestic revenue mobilization efforts so that we can have adequate resources to fund the 2021 Budget. Revenue Generating Agencies, and indeed all Ministries, Departments and Government Owned Enterprises, must work very hard to achieve their revenue targets, control their cost-to-revenue ratios, as well as ensure prompt and full remittance of revenue collections.
“Relevant agencies are to ensure the realization of our crude oil production and export targets. Heads of defaulting Agencies are hereby warned that they will be severely sanctioned. I also appeal to our fellow citizens and the business community, at large, to fulfill their tax obligations promptly.
“I am also directing all relevant agencies of Government to scale-up budget implementation monitoring and evaluation efforts this regard, we continue to count on the support of Civil Society Organisations and the general
public, at large.
“As a nation, we are currently confronted with diverse challenges at this time. I commend the understanding, sacrifice and resilience of our people, both young and old. I assure everyone our hope and confidence of
a greater future shall not be in vain”, the President said.
He said the borrowing plan for funding the budget would subsequently be forwarded to the National Assembly for passage and assured that borrowed funds would not be misapplied.
“Being a deficit budget, the specific Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly. I count on the co-operation of the National Assembly for a quick consideration and approval of the Plan when submitted. I assure you that all borrowings will be judiciously applied towards growth-enhancing critical expenditures”, he said.
He, however, commended the National Assembly for the roles it had played since the current economic challenges started, saying “let me conclude by commending the National Assembly, once again, for the steady support in safely steering our economy during these very challenging times. I remain committed to sustaining the partnership with the Legislature to jointly deliver on our mandate from our people.”
Speaking on the 2020 Budget performance, President revealed that it currently stands at “an impressive rate” of 97.7%.
“This commendable outcome underscores the importance of our efforts, together with the Legislature, to return to the discipline of a January-to December fiscal year. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will provide further details on the 2020 Budget’s performance, in due course.”
He explained that in spite of the adverse impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the nation’s economy and the government’s revenues, the administration has made appreciable progress in the implementation of the 2020 Budget.
“As at December 2020, we had released about One-point-Seven- Four-Eight Trillion Naira (N1.748 trillion) out of a total of the One-Point-Nine-Six- Two Trillion Naira (N1.962 trillion) voted for the implementation of critical capital projects, representing a performance of about Eighty-Nine-point-One Percent (89.1%),” he stated.
Speaking to State House Correspondents after the Budget signing ceremony, the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, described the event, whereby budget is passed and signed to law before the New Year, two consecutive years, as a historic and memorable one.
He, however, expressed the legislature’s desire and commitment to ensuring that the Budget works as planned, expressing the hope that the budget would render complete benefit to the nation’s economy.
He also vowed that the National Assembly would continue to give needed support to President Buhari to aid his performance and help him function properly as Nigeria’s President.