By News desk
President Muhammadu Buhari has presented 2019 budget to the joint National Assembly, reeling out plans to boost the economy and address challenges.
The 2019 budget of N8.83trn, according the President, was benchmarked 2.3 million barrels per day crude oil, N305 to $1 exchange rate, Real Gross Domestic Product, GDP growth of 3.01 per cent and Inflation rate of 9.98 per cent.
The president who arrived the green chambers at 12:40 p.m. amidst applause from supporters and freedom songs from the opposition. The shouts of ‘Sai Baba’ to welcome the arrival of the president has drowned the chants of anti-Buhari supporters.
While admitting that the budget was the last to the 8th national assembly, the president review economic developments of the last three years, with particular reference to 2018.
According to him, the last three and half years have been challenging both at home and abroad.
“The economy has recovered from recession and we have done more work with less resources in agriculture, and social investment,” Buhari said.
Buhari said that the Gross Domestic Product has increased from 1.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 to 1.81 per cent in the third quarter of 2018.
He noted that the foreign reserve has increased from $20.57 billion in May 2016 to $42.92 billion in December 2018.
He said inflation rate in November dropped to 11.28 per cent from 18.72 in January 2017, noting, this has contributed to exchange rate stability.
“We simply prioritised the completion of ongoing projects over introduction of new ones,” Buhari added.
Buhari stressed that over 100 of these projects have been completed, saying, in every state in Nigeria, today there is a major road under construction.
“In the railway sector, we completed the Abuja-Kaduna rail line and the Abuja metropolis rail line. The Ajaokuta-Itakpe and Lagos-Kano rail line are on course. A significant progress has been made on the Lagos-Ibadan part of the project,” Buhari said.
Buhari stated that his administration has awarded the contract to dualise the Mokwa-Jebba road.
On power, the President said a good number of projects are ongoing in the country.
“As a government, we took a long term view of tracking the effect of climate change. In the last two years, we have planted over 2.3 billion seedlings in 21 states.”
The President disclosed that half a million graduates have been employed under the N-power scheme.
He added that 297,000 people from 26 states are benefiting from the conditional fund transfer programme of the government.
According to him, all recovered looted assets will be liquidated to help in funding the 2019 budget.
“In order to put to use for benefit of all Nigerians, monies and assets stolen from public treasury, the 2019 budget created a revenue line for monies recovered.”
“Of the N9.2 trillion budgeted in 2018, N4.59 trillion has been spent as at September 30 as against the N6.84 trillion target. Other items not actualised in the budget have been rolled over to 2019,” the president added.
On subsidy, Buhari said it was abused in the past but his government has made NNPC the sole importer and now, the under recovery was from NNPC account while false claim by marketers is removed.
The breakdown: of the N8.83 budget indicated that Recurrent expenditure was N4.04 trillion, Debt service; N2.14 trillion,
Statutory transfer; N492.36 billion, Sinking fund; N120 billion and Capital expenditure; N2.031 trillion.
He hinted that Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) have been directed to implement the IPPIS by March 2019.
“I am committed to the minimum wage. I will be sending a bill to you on this. Also, plans have been concluded to set up a technical committee to advise on how to fund the new minimum wage without extra borrowing.”
Going into the budget, Buhari said N65 billion has been set aside for the Amnesty Programme in the 2019 budget, N45 billion for the North-east intervention fund and N10 billion take off capital for the North East Development Commission.
He said N15 billion has been set aside for the re-capitalisatoon of the Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Industry while N10 billion has been provided for SMSEs.
“Every child counts; this is the guiding principle of our nation’s educational system. We will be establishing a health care system that prioritises the primary health care,” Buhari added.
The President disclosed that the budget was prepared after wide consultation, urging the lawmakers to expedite passage of the budget despite their preoccupation with election activities.