Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma on Tuesday said the Muhammadu Buhari administration disbursed a total of N4.33 trillion to execute its capital projects for 2016, 2017 and 2018.
At a valedictory press conference in Abuja, Udoma said “Ministry of Finance was able to release, for capital spending, the sum of N1.2 trillion under the 2016 budget, the sum of N1.58 trillion under the 2017 budget and, as at 8th May 2019 the sum of N1.55 trillion has been released under the 2018 budget.”
“We increased budgetary allocations to capital expenditure – from 16.1% in 2015 to 30.2% in 2016, 31.7% in 2017, 315% in 2018 and 26% in 2019- with priority given to the key execution priorities of the Economic Recovery Growth Plan, ERGP. We were also able to increase our capital releases,” Udoma said.
The Minister, regrettably during question and answer with the reporters admitted that the projection of growing economy by 7% a forecast of ERGP by 2020 is threatened and seems unrealisable.
He explained that the administration was unable to achieve the January to December budget cycle due to the absence of harmony between the executive and legislative arms of government.
While insisting that there was no legal requirement for the budget year to run from January to December, he, however, admitted January to December fiscal year is more predictable and would help the private sector and other economic players in planning because most economic players run a January to December fiscal year.
“Also, it would be much easier to track budget performance if both the recurrent and the capital budgets run from the same dates.
“However, to return to the January to December fiscal year for a budget when the operation of the current budget only commenced in June or July is a very challenging assignment.
“In order to achieve a return to a 1st of January commencement date the budget must ideally be delivered to the National Assembly by September.
“But when you are operating a budget which commenced only in June, or July, by September you would have had no idea how the existing budget is likely to perform.
“Indeed, given the procurement process, for a budget which starts running in June or July, there might have been little or no capital releases by September.
“In short, the only way to return to a January to December fiscal year, under those circumstances, is for there to be agreement between the Executive and the National Assembly to produce a budget on the basis of significant assumptions.
“This will require a very close working relationship of trust and synergy between the two arms of government.”
On the Social Investment Program ( SIP), the Minister said “as at March 2019, 1,707,932 loans been successfully disbursed under the Government Enterprise & Empowerment Programme (GEEP), with 1,374,192 of the loans given under the TraderMoni scheme; while 330,568 loans were for MarketMoni and 1,172 for FarmerMoni; over 9.5 million school children are currently being fed each day in 52,604 schools across 30 states under the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme.
“This programme has also provided direct jobs to 101,913 catering staff engaged under the scheme; 297,973 poor Nigerians across 20 States, have benefited from the N5,000 Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme and 3,517 community facilitators have been trained; 500,000 graduates are benefiting from the N-Power programme and are paid N30,000 monthly; while 20,000 non-graduates in the N-Build category are either currently in training or serving as intern,” Udoma explained.