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Budget 2022: President Laments Alterations By N’Assembly, Signs Reluctantly

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After expressing deep concern about changes effected on the 2022 budget by the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday reluctantly signed the N17.127 trillion 2022 Appropriation Bill into law.

The presidency had submitted a N16.391 trillion proposal to the national assembly but the lawmakers increased the budget size to N17.127 trillion.

The President, who also assented to the 2021 Finance Bill at a brief ceremony at the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja, further hinted of the readiness of his administration to submit an amendment to the 2022 Appropriation law to the legislative arm early in 2022 to take care of the alterations by the National Assembly.

Buhari, while signing the two documents in the presence of Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), expressed strong reservations about the ‘‘worrisome changes’’ to the budget.

Buhari said the lawmakers reduced the amount allocated to some projects, but added 6,576 projects of their own to the 2022 budget.

He announced that he would revert to the National Assembly with a request for amendment as soon as the Assembly resumed, to ensure that critical ongoing projects cardinal to the administration did not suffer a setback due to reduced funding.

The President said: ‘‘I signed the 2022 Appropriation Bill into law to enable its implementation to commence on 1st January 2022. ‘‘It is in this regard that I must express my reservations about many of the changes that the National Assembly has made to the 2022 Executive Budget proposal.

“Some of the worrisome changes are as follows: Increase in projected FGN Independent Revenue by N400 billion, the justification for which is yet to be provided to the Executive.

‘‘Reduction in the provision for Sinking Fund to Retire Maturing Bonds by N22 billion without any explanation.

‘‘Reduction in the provisions for the Non-Regular Allowances of the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Navy by N15 billion and N5 billion respectively.

‘‘This is particularly worrisome because personnel cost provisions are based on agencies’ nominal roll and approved salaries/allowances;

‘‘Furthermore, an increase of N21.72 billion in the Overhead budgets of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) while the sum of N1.96 billion was cut from the provision for some MDAs without apparent justification.

‘‘Increase in the provision for Capital spending (excluding Capital share in Statutory Transfer) by a net amount of N575.63 billion, from N4.89 trillion to N5.47 trillion.’’

President Buhari also expressed concern about the reductions in provisions for some critical projects, including N12.6 billion in the Ministry of Transport’s budget for the ongoing Rail Modernisation projects; N25.8 billion from Power Sector Reform Programme under the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; N14.5 billion from several projects of the Ministry of Agriculture, and introducing over 1,500 new projects into the budgets of this Ministry and its agencies.

The President expressed his reservations about the ‘‘Inclusion of new provisions totaling N36.59 billion for National Assembly’s projects in the Service Wide Vote which negates the principles of separation of powers and financial autonomy of the Legislative arm of government.

He said: ‘‘The changes to the original Executive proposal are in the form of new insertions, outright removals, reductions and/or increases in the amounts allocated to projects.

‘‘Provisions made for as many as 10,733 projects were reduced while 6,576 new projects were introduced into the budget by the National Assembly.

‘Reductionbin the provisions for many strategic capital projects to introduce ‘Empowerment’ projects.

‘‘The cuts in the provisions for several of these projects by the National Assembly may render the projects unimplementable or set back their completion, especially some of this Administration’s strategic capital projects.

‘‘Most of the projects inserted relate to matters that are basically the responsibilities of State and Local Governments, and do not appear to have been properly conceptualised, designed and costed.”

According to the President, the 2022 Budget provides for aggregate expenditures of N17.127 trillion, an increase of N735.85 billion over the initial Executive Proposal for a total expenditure of N16.391 trillion.

The President explained that N186.53 billion of the increase however came from additional critical expenditures that he had directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to forward to the National Assembly.

‘‘The Minister will provide the public with the details of the budget as passed by the National Assembly, and signed into law by me,’’ he said.

Buhari announced that as the 2023 Budget is going to be a transition budget, work would start in earnest to ensure early submission of the 2023-2025 Medium-Term

Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, as well as the 2023 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.

He, therefore, directed Heads of MDAs to cooperate with the Ministry of Finance,

Budget and National Planning, more specifically with the Budget Office of the Federation, to realise this very important objective.

On COVID-19 and budget implementation, the President said despite the lingering adverse effects of the pandemic, he was happy with the success recorded in the implementation of the 2021 Budget.

President Buhari commended the understanding and speedy action of the National Assembly on this matter.

To achieve the laudable objectives of the 2022 Budget, President Buhari pledged that the federal government would further intensify revenue mobilisation efforts.

He expressed optimism in the ability of the government to finance the budget considering the positive global oil market outlook and the continuing improvement in non-oil revenues.

Buhari said: ‘‘I also appeal to our fellow citizens and the business community at large to fulfill their tax obligations promptly.

‘‘However, being a deficit budget, the specific Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the

National Assembly shortly.

‘‘I count on the cooperation of the National Assembly for a quick consideration and approval of the Plan when submitted.

‘‘All borrowings will be judiciously utilised and invested in our future growth and prosperity.’’

The President of the Senate has said the National Assembly was correct in its judgment by tampering with Budget 2022.

Lawan spoke at the Presidential Villa shortly after the President signed the budget.

He said, “I think the most important thing is that Mr. President is happy with the majority of what the National Assembly has done. That is the most critical thing that we need to focus on.

 

 

 

 

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PVC: Gov. Matawalle declares one-week public holiday

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The Governor of Zamfara State, Hon. Bello Mohammed Matawalle has declared next week Monday to Friday, (June 20th to 24th, 2022) as work free week to enable the State’s public and civil servants to go to their respective localities and obtain their Permanent Voter Cards, (PVC).
The Governor directed all the commissioners, Special Advisers, Permanent Secretaries, other public office holders, party officials and traditional rulers to monitor and supervise the ongoing Voter Registration exercise.

This was contained in a press statement signed and issued to newsmen in Gusau, the State capital by the State’s commissioner for information, Hon. Ibrahim Magaji Dosara.
According to the statement, every person above the age of 18 is expected to be part of the exercise, saying that it was their constitutional right to elect their leaders.

Governor Matawalle appealed to the general public to participate in the exercise so that they would not complain later.

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Taraba retirees protest against non-payment of gratuity

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The Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) Taraba State Council has called on the state government to ensure prompt payment of all entitlements of its members as well as enrollment of all local government retirees in the state.
The state Chairman of the Union, Comrade Kefas Katan stated this at a World Press Conference held on Friday at the NUP Headquarters in Jalingo, the state capital.
He explained that the backlogs of gratuity for retired civil servants in the state are estimated at over N30billion.
The Chairman said the briefing was a replication of the one conducted on the 1st June 2022 in Abuja by the National President of the Union, Mazi Godwin.
Comrade Kefas Katan said retirees in Taraba State are facing numerous challenges due to the non-enrollment of many of its members into the scheme.
Reporting by Sani Suleiman; Editing by Adeniyi Bakare

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Buhari inaugurates council on e-Governance

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President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration will continue to take advantage of digital technologies to transform every sector of the economy.

He stated this in Abuja while inaugurating the Presidential Council on Digital Economy and E-government.

The President tasked members of the council to work towards strengthening the capacity of government to develop, adopt and deploy digital technologies to make government more efficient and transparent, thereby improving Nigeria’s global standing in the ease of doing business index.

He noted that the council would provide the oversight needed to bring about a veritable structure for accelerating achievements in digital economy and in the implementation of e-government.

The President enjoined members of the Council to consider the task as a national assignment and justify the trust reposed in their ability to support and significantly enhance the digital transformation in the country.

He said the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, NDEPS, in 2019, and expansion of the mandate of the Ministry of Communications to include Digital Economy had brought significant progress and a number of unprecedented achievements.

President Buhari expressed delight that the approval of the National Policy on Virtual Engagements for Federal Public Institutions had helped to formalize government online meetings.

He said Nigeria’s progress in e-governance had been noted by the international community, eliciting recognition from international stakeholders, including the appointment of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy as the Chairman of the 2022 Forum of the highly regarded World Summit of the Information Society.

While congratulating the Minister, the President acknowledged that the Ministry had partnered with the Korea International Co-operation Agency to develop a National E-government Master Plan, approved by FEC in August 2019.

He listed benefits from the partnership to include training of over 1,400 Nigerian public servants in both Nigeria and South Korea on e-governance, the launch of an e-Government Training Centre, handed over to the Federal Government in 2019, and the signing-off of Phase II of the E-government Project for Building Foundations Towards Digital Governance in Nigeria, 2020-2026.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, had noted that the launch of NDEPS made provision for the establishment of the Presidential Council to co-ordinate the development of an indigenous digital economy.

He said the recent auction of spectrums by the Ministry, generated over 400 percent revenue to the Federal Government coffers, while two virtual institutions established by government had trained some 500,000 Nigerians on digital and emerging technologies.

The 27-man committee, chaired by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, on behalf of President Buhari, has Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, the Governors of Gombe, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Edo, Lagos, and Imo, as members.

Others are the Ministers of Finance, Industry, Trade and Investment, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Managing Director, Galaxy Backbone Limited.

Others are Managing Director, Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, and the Director General, National Identity Management Commission.

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