The federal government has put the performance rate of the 2018 budget at 75 per cent. Director-general of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze, disclosed this during an interactive session with editors in Lagos at the weekend. Akabueze said the federal government did not spend up to the projected amount on capital expenditure.
According to him, “As for the extent of implementation of the 2018 budget, usually budget is expressed in terms of how much is your projected expenditure.
“We now have the final numbers for the last quarter and we reckon that total performance is about 75 per cent. That means we didn’t spend about N2.2 trillion we projected to spend. Sadly, the bulk of that shortfall comes from capital revenue.”
Earlier, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, in a presentation on the 2019 Appropriation Bill, said the amount provided for recurrent expenditure in this year’s budget proposal rose to N4.72 trillion, from N3.52 trillion in 2018, because of the intended minimum wage hike. Udoma explained that the technical committee on minimum wage constituted by the president last week was mandated to look for ways of raising additional revenue to ensure that payment of the higher minimum wage did not affect resources available for capital expenditure.
He added, “We all want a larger budget. Indeed, Nigeria deserves a much bigger budget. Our budget is too small for our needs. However, we have to find the money. But there is no point having a large budget that you can’t fund. This is a budget that I believe we can fund.
“I believe that as we get more revenue, we would continue to increase the size of our budget.”
The minister said the $60 per barrel crude oil benchmark adopted for the 2019 Appropriation Bill was appropriate, saying analysts generally believe the recent decline in crude price is for the short-term.
However, Udoma pointed out that before the budget is passed into law, the government would continue to monitor developments in the international oil market and engage the National Assembly if at any time the crude oil benchmark appears over ambitious.
“We still reserve the right to engage the National Assembly and make adjustment. We have sustained our efforts to improve public financial management through the comprehensive implementation of the Treasury Single Account as well as the IPISS,” he added.
Speaking on measures by the government to ramp up revenue, Udoma said the president had directed the immediate restructuring of the Joint Venture Oil assets to reduce government’s shareholding to 40 per cent. He said this would help free up resources and enhance spending on infrastructure, adding that whatever is realised from the initiative would be ring-fenced and used only for infrastructure projects.
Udoma added: “The Department of Petroleum Resources has been directed within three months, to complete the collection of past due oil licence and royalty charges. And then, following the president’s directive, the Minister of Finance, working with all the relevant authorities, has been authorised to take action to liquidate all recovered unencumbered assets.
“That is, the ones where there are no litigations, so that we can use that in the budget. Also, given the improved oil prices, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been directed to immediately commence the recovery of all outstanding obligations, including those due from the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company.”
The minister also stated, “Among other revenue generating initiatives, the president has directed that work should be immediately concluded on the deployment of a National Trade Window, to enhance customs collections. That should bring up Customs’ efficiency when fully installed, from the current 64 per cent of efficiency, up to 90 per cent and that should lead to increased revenue. So, our focus is on revenue.
“The 2019 Budget of Continuity is intended to further reposition the economy on the path of inclusive, diversified and sustainable growth and to continue to lift a significant number of our people out of poverty.
“Our aim is to take all measures to ensure that we grow rapidly, while maintaining fiscal sustainability. We would continue to create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and contribute to job creation.”