Economy

Nigeria’s 2020 Capital Budget Attained 89% Finance Minister Tells NASS

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, on Monday, appeared before the leadership of the National Assembly for an appraisal of the 2020 capital budget performance, adjudging the 89% of capital budget released “a reasonably good performance.”

A statement by Ezrel Tabiowo, Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate, quoted Dr. Lawan as saying the event is to enable the legislators interact with the Minister on the continued implementation of the 2020 capital budget

The Minister who was at the parley with her team, told the federal lawmakers specifically, that the “performance is higher than several previous years backwards… considering the challenges of the year.”

The 2020 capital budget is expected to run till the end next month.

Recall that a significant part of the year was dominated by activities relating to checking the spread of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, including a lockdown of the economy like in several countries across the globe, a situation that pushed the nation into recession from which she recently emerged.

Mrs. Ahmed further told the principal officers of both Chambers, led by President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila that what was rolled over into this year “was only the un-utilized portion of the budget.”

Continuing, she stressed that it is the performance of that un-utilized portion that is now being tracked, assuring that by the end of January, performance of the in-utilized portion was about 30%.

Giving a breakdown of the 2020 budget performance, the Minister told the lawmakers that “the Federal Government retained revenue was N3.94 trillion which represents 73 per cent of the target for the year.”

She explained that the Federal Government share of the oil revenue was N1.5tr represented 157% performance over and above the prorated target for 2020, a situation linked to the fact that crude oil price performed better than the projected 28 Dollars per barrel.

Within the period, Mrs. Ahmed continued, the nation oil production output stood at 1.28m barrels per day, representing 79% performance of the revised target, even as “company income tax performed at 82% and 68% respectively of the target for the year.

“Customs revenue performance was 79%. Other revenue which includes Independent Revenue was budgeted at N993.73bn, the performance was N519.36bn.

“In aggregate, the retained revenues for government performed as I earlier reported at 73%. And that is an underperformance of 27% on an aggregate basis.

“We intend to track again in February, and then again by the end of March,” Ahmed added.

Welcoming the visitors, the Senate President stressed the importance of the interaction, which is enable the legislators “know how far we have gone with implementation.

“Equally important is the implementation of the 2021 Appropriation Act,” he added, underscoring the importance of Executive-Legislature harmony in early budget passage.

Commending Mrs. Ahmed for the strict implementation of the 2020 budget, Lawan said the cordial and harmonious relationship between the Executive and National Assembly was largely responsible for the recent growth in the nation’s economy and Nigeria’s quick exit from recession.

According to Lawan, the decision by the executive arm of government and the Ninth Assembly to revert to the January to December budget cycle occasioned significant improvement to the economy.

“Let me congratulate the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Legislature and the Executive arm of government for getting it right by first passing the budget at the right time by the National Assembly, and the President’s assent to the budget at the right time, and of course, the Ministry of Finance for having to implement the budget as done remarkably well so far, that today our economy has shown significant improvement and we are technically out of recession.

“Our economy has grown – the Gross Domestic Product – by 0.1 per cent and that is remarkable.

“I want to take this opportunity to tell everyone who cares to listen that this is the dividend of the National Assembly passing the budget before the end of the year.

“That is to say that the implementation of the budget from January to December, gives you this kind of dividend, and of course the harmony that exists in ensuring that Nigerians always first, and Nigeria remains the focus of both the National Assembly and Executive arm of government.

While stressing that the meeting is not targeted at any individual, said it “is to ensure that by 31st March, the implementation of the 2020 capital budget or the extension would have been completed, and we would have achieved 100% implementation. That is our hope and desire.”.

Also commenting, Gbajabiamila described the level of implementation of the 2020 budget as the highest recorded so far since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, but emphasized that the extension for implementation of capital projects in the 2020 budget must be matched by visible and identifiable results needed to achieve quantifiable development and growth.

“Let me commend the minister and her team for the level of implementation throughout last year. It was really high, probably the highest we have seen in a long time, if not in history, in recent times, but we wanted to achieve a hundred per cent and we are on the same page.

“If we are extending the implementation of capital projects, we are basically trying to make sure social development and growth for the country are achieved optimally.

“It’s not a usual thing to extend the life of your budget – a budget is supposed to be for a year.

“So, if we do that which is not the norm, we expect there’ll be a result, and it will not just be an extension for the sake of it. There’ll be visible, identifiable results,” the Speaker said.

Photo caption: National Assembly leadership meets Finance Minister to appraise 2020 budget performance in Abuja on Monday, February 22, 2021.

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