The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Tuesday, signed into law the 2023 budget proposal of N21.83tn along with the 2022 supplementary appropriation bill.
It is the eighth and final budget of his regime.
Buhari signed the 2023 budget at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, in the presence of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and other members of the Federal Executive Council.
While commending the National Assembly for its near-seamless relationship with the executive arm, Buhari urged the legislature to reconsider its stance on his proposal to securitise the Federal Government’s outstanding Ways and Means balance of N22.7tn at the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Failure to grant the securitisation approval, he warned, would cost the government about N1.8tn in additional interest in 2023 and a 40-year repayment period on the securitised debt.
Buhari’s appeal comes barely one week after the Senate rejected his request to restructure the N22.7tn Ways and Means advances.
Speaking at the signing of the budget, the President revealed that the aggregate expenditures of N21.83tn is an increase of N1.32tn over the initial executive proposal for a total expenditure of N20.51tn.
He said the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act would enable his regime to respond to the havoc caused by the recent nationwide floods on infrastructure and agriculture sectors.
As is customary, he noted the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, would subsequently provide more details of the approved budget and the supporting 2022 Finance Act.
Buhari explained, ‘We have examined the changes made by the National Assembly to the 2023 Executive Budget proposal.
‘’The amended fiscal framework for 2023 as approved by the National Assembly shows additional revenues of N765.79bn, and an unfunded deficit of N553.46bn.
“It is clear that the National Assembly and the executive need to capture some of the proposed additional revenue sources in the fiscal framework. This must be rectified.
“I have also noted that the National Assembly introduced new projects into the 2023 budget proposal for which it has appropriated N770.72 billion. The National Assembly also increased the provisions made by Ministries, Departments and Agencies by N58.55 billion.’’
According to the President, his decision to sign the 2023 Appropriation Bill into law as passed by the National Assembly is to enable swift implementation considering the imminent transition process to another democratically elected government.
However, he directed the finance minister to engage with the legislature to revisit some of the changes made to the executive budget proposal, expressing the hope that the National Assembly would cooperate with the executive arm of government in this regard.
While urging the National Assembly to reconsider its position on his proposal to securitize the FG’s outstanding Ways and Means balance at the CBN, Buhari said, ‘’As I stated, the balance has accumulated over several years and represents funding provided by the CBN as lender of last resort to the government to enable it to meet obligations to lenders, as well as cover budgetary shortfalls in projected revenues and/or borrowings.
“I have no intention to fetter the right of the National Assembly to interrogate the composition of this balance, which can still be done even after granting the requested approval.
“Failure to grant the securitization approval will, however, cost the government about N1.8tn in additional interest in 2023 given the differential between the applicable interest rates which is currently MPR plus three per cent and the negotiated interest rate of nine per cent and a 40year repayment period on the securitised debt of the Ways and Means,” said the President.
In his remarks, Senate President Lawan promised that the NASS would reconsider its stance on the Ways and Means advance.