Buhari Signs 2019 Budget, Caution National Assembly To Make It Less Difficult
• N’Assembly’s adjustments will hamper execution, Buhari warns.
• Dogara: Executive, legislative divergence normal.
Following the signing of the 2019 budget into law yesterday by President Muhammadu Buhari, analysts have advised him to ensure proper implementation to stimulate economic activities.
However, the president has warned that the adjustments made to the budget by the National Assembly would make its implementation difficult, particularly in accordance with the provisions of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
While signing the 2019 Appropriation Bill into law, the president promised to push for a review of the document by the next National Assembly.
The president who signed the budget in his office in the State House Abuja, said the budget of N8.92 trillion passed by the National Assembly was N90 billion higher than the N8.83 trillion proposal he presented to the parliament on December 19, 2018.
The president said the adjustments by the National Assembly would make implementation of the budget difficult, particularly in accordance with the provisions of the ERGP.
However, he said even though he had opted to sign the budget, he would yet engage the leadership of the Ninth National Assembly to review the document when it resumes in June.
However, the president thanked the members of the National Assembly for their efforts in getting the document passed, recalling that the 2019 budget was christened budget of continuity, with a view to moving the country forward and fostering the policy of inclusiveness, diversified and sustainable growth.
He said he would ensure the improvement of the budget process with a view to speeding up budget consideration and consequently return the country to the January to December budget cycle.
Dogara Reacts to Buhari’s Complaint
Reacting to the president’s complaint on the handling of the budget by the National Assembly, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, said there was nowhere in the world where the executive and legislature agree on the budget.
Dogara responded as Senate President Bukola Saraki, who ought to have done so as the leader of the National Assembly, arrived late at the signing ceremony from another engagement.
According to him, it is the responsibility of the executive to make budget proposals while on the other hand, it is the responsibility of the legislature to appropriate in accordance with priorities as representatives of the people.
He said instead of resorting to name calling, it would be more important to reach a consensus aimed at promoting progress.
“It is going to be a knotty area but we will continue to define the relationship between the executive and the legislature. Whether it is Britain or US, wherever it is, there is always a strain on this issue of budget because it deals with high stakes distributional issues as to who get what, which part of Nigeria gets this and that, so it will continually be an issue.
“We should not be defined by those issues rather we should define those issues by forming consensus that is the part to progress and we will continue to do that,” Dogara said.
Earlier, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, had described the document as a collective endeavour between the executive and the National Assembly.
The 2019 budget is made up of N4.65 trillion recurrent expenditure, N2.94 trillion capital expenditure, N2.25 trillion for debt servicing and N502.58 billion statutory transfer.
Among those who witnessed the signing of the budget were Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; Dogara; Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Senate Chief Whip, Prof. Sola Adeyeye; Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah; Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee, Senator Danjuma Goje and Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator John Owan Enoh.