I would like to thank the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and indeed all the Distinguished and Honourable Leaders and Members of the National Assembly for the expeditious consideration and passage of these Bills.
I also appreciate the continuing cooperation and commitment of the 9th National Assembly to the restoration of a predictable January to December fiscal year, as provided for in the Constitution.
The Finance Bill 2021 is particularly critical for the successful implementation of the 2022 Budget. Its passage further underscores our firm commitment to regularly support federal Appropriation Bills with Finance Bills designed to facilitate their implementation.
I equally appreciate the continued mutual understanding, collaboration and productive engagements between officials of the Executive and the Legislative arms of government which have made this expeditious consideration as well as passage of the Bills possible.
I must however 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:
a. Increase in projected FGN Independent Revenue by N400 billion, the justification for which is yet to be provided to the Executive;
b. Reduction in the provision for Sinking Fund to Retire Maturing Bonds by N22 billion without any explanation;
c. Reduction of 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;
d. Furthermore, an increase of N21.72 billion in the Overhead budgets of some MDAs, while the sum of N1.96 billion was cut from the provision for some MDAs without apparent justification;
e. 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. Nevertheless, provisions for some critical projects were reduced. These include:
i. Reduction of N12.6 billion in the Ministry of Transport’s budget for the ongoing Rail Modernisation projects,
ii. Reduction of N25.8 billion from Power Sector Reform Programme under the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and
iii. Reduction of 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.
f. 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.
g. 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:
i. 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.
ii. Reduction in 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.
iii. 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 conceptualized, designed and costed.
iv. Many more projects have been added to the budgets of some MDAs with no consideration for the institutional capacity to execute the additional projects and/or for the incremental recurrent expenditure that may be required.
It is surprising that despite the National Assembly increasing projected revenue by N609.27 billion, the additional Executive request of N186.53 billion for critical expenditure items could not be accommodated without increasing the deficit, while the sum of N550.59 billion from the projected incremental revenues was allocated at the discretion of National Assembly.
I signed the 2022 Appropriation Bill into law to enable its implementation to commence on 1st January 2022.
However, I will revert to the National Assembly with a request for amendment and/or virement as soon as the Assembly resumes to ensure that critical ongoing projects that are cardinal to this administration, and those nearing completion, do not suffer a setback due to reduced funding.
As the 2022 Budget will be the last full year budget to be implemented by our Administration, its effective implementation is very critical for delivering our legacy projects, promoting social inclusion and strengthening the resilience of the economy.