President Muhammadu Buhari has accused National Assembly of padding the original document he presented to a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives in November 2017.
Buhari said, “the National Assembly made cuts amounting to N347 billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion.”
“Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation. Some of the new projects inserted by the national assembly have not been properly conceptualized, designed and costed and will therefore be difficult to execute,” he said.
In a Twitter handle Wednesday, he noted “Notwithstanding the above stated observations, I have decided to sign the 2018 Budget in order not to further slowdown the pace of recovery of our economy, which has doubtlessly been affected by the delay in passing the budget.”
According to him, “As it is, some of these projects relate to matters that are the responsibility of the States and Local Governments, and for which the Federal Government should therefore not be unduly burdened.
“Such examples of projects from which cuts were made are as follows: Provisions for some nationally/regionally strategic infrastructure projects such as Counterpart funding for Mambilla Power Plant, 2nd Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway & Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail were cut by an aggregate of N11.5billion.
“At a time when we are working with Labour to address compensation-related issues, a total of N5 billion was cut from the provisions for Pension Redemption Fund and Public Service Wage Adjustment.
“The provisions for Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and Special Economic Zones/Industrial Parks, which are key industrialization initiatives of this Administration, were cut by a total of 14.5 billion Naira.
“The provision for Construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport was cut from 2 billion Naira to 500 million Naira, which will further delay the completion of this critical project.
“The Take-off Grant for the Maritime University in Delta State, a key strategic initiative of the Federal Government, was cut from N5 billion to 3.4 billion Naira.
“About seventy (70) new road projects have been inserted into the budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. In doing so, the national assembly applied some of the additional funds expected from the upward review of the oil price benchmark to the Ministry’s vote.
“Regrettably, however, in order to make provision for some of the new roads, the amounts allocated to some strategic major roads have been cut by the National Assembly.
“Another area of concern is the increase by the national assembly of the provisions for Statutory Transfers by an aggregate of 73.96 billion Naira. Most of these increases are for recurrent expenditure at a time we are trying to keep down the cost of governance.
“An example of this increase is the budget of the National Assembly itself which has increased by 14.5 billion Naira, from 125 billion Naira to 139.5 billion Naira without any discussion with the Executive.
“Notwithstanding the above stated observations, I have decided to sign the 2018 Budget in order not to further slowdown the pace of recovery of our economy, which has doubtlessly been affected by the delay in passing the budget.
“However, it is my intention to seek to remedy some of the most critical of these issues through a supplementary and/or amendment budget which I hope the National Assembly will be able to expeditiously consider.”