President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said that the revised 2020 budget would help the country to navigate through the difficult times caused by the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
He stated that it was the pandemic that forced a review of the budget on government, having crashed crude oil prices from a high of $72.2 in January to under $20, before it rose gradually to around $40 per barrel lately.
The President spoke in Abuja while signing into law, the Appropriation (Repeal and Amendment) Act, 2020, at the Presidential Villa.
He explained that the re-worked N10.8trn budget would be implemented along with the recently approved N2.3tn stimulus programme to navigate the country through the pandemic.
“The 2020 amended budget, which I have just signed into law today (Friday), underscores our administration’s firm commitment to effectively contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the lives and livelihood of our people.
“With these budget amendments, as well as our recently launched N2.3tn stimulus programme, we are well-positioned to safeguard the economy”, Buhari said.
The President stated that total capital releases for the year stood at N253.33bn as of May 31, adding that with the amendments, more funds would be made available for the execution of projects.
Recall that the original size of the 2020 budget, pre-COVID-19 pandemic, was N10.59tn, with a crude oil benchmark of $57.
With the outbreak of the pandemic, it was reviewed to N10.5tn in May, but the National Assembly later jacked it up by N216bn to leave the final figure signed by Buhari on Friday at N10.8tn.
The budget also incorporated a revised crude oil benchmark of $28 per barrel.
Other highlights of the budget are a recurrent expenditure provision of N4.942tn; debt servicing provision of N2.488tn; statutory transfer provision of N422bn; and capital expenditure provision of N2.4tn.
The President directed all ministers to ensure that agencies under their watch dutifully implemented the budget.
He added, “Considering recent budget implementation challenges, I have directed that efforts be made to ensure effective implementation of the Appropriation (Repeal and Amendment) Act, 2020 in order to realise its laudable objectives.
“All ministers are to ensure that their Ministries, Departments and Agencies intensify capital project delivery efforts and fully cooperate with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to achieve the laudable objectives of the budget.
“We have, nevertheless, made some progress in the implementation of the Appropriation Act 2020. As at 31st May 2020, the sum of N253.33 billion have been released for the implementation of capital projects.
“The Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is in the process of effecting budgetary releases that will ensure that all MDAs receive at least 50 per cent of their amended capital budgets by the end of this month.”