COSMAS EKPUNOBI and ABIODUN ADELAJA:

Barely five months after the 2010 budget was presented to it for approval, the National Assembly yesterday approved a harmonized N4.6 trillion for the 2010 fiscal year.

The budget was presented last November by the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly matters, Senator Abba Aji few days before President Umaru Yar’Adua was flown to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment.

Both chambers yesterday blamed the delay on last minute insertions by the executive. The nation’s apex law body has also warned that it would not accept any excuses from the executive for non implementation of the budget.

The budget was however predicated on $67 per barrel of crude oil, production level of 2.35 million barrels per day, even as oil price crashed again last week to less than $80 per barrel. An exchange rate N150 to a US dollar was also approved.

The N1.85 trillion capital provisions is less than the N2.077 trillion provided for recurrent expenditure but higher than the N1.521 trillion inherent deficits in the budget.

Chairman of the Senate committee on appropriation, Iyola Omisore had on Wednesday presented the harmonized budget on the floor of the Senate while his House counterpart Ayo Adeseun did so for the lower House.

The harmonized budget captured the policy thrust of the budget as the stimulation of the economy.

“The 2010 Budget is based on government’s determination to stimulate the economy out of the recent global economic crisis through targeted fiscal interventions.

“It is anchored on transforming the socio-economic fortunes of the Nigerian people and security of lives through the provision of infrastructural facilities and by its very design, the budget is embossed with a clear cut and measurable deliverable in terms of public goods and services that Millennium Development Agencies (MDAs) have to undertake on behalf of the Nigerian citizenry,” the report deposed,” the report stated.

The budget earmarked N91 billion for the National Judicial Council (NJC), N35.6 billion as the federal government’s funding for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), N44.3 billion for the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Scheme and another N9.3 billion as the 2009 arrears of the NDDC.

The federal government is expected to service its domestic debts with N463 billion while another N33.9 billion is provided for foreign debts.

The budget is to be financed by total retained federal revenue of N3.086 trillion leaving a deficit of N1.521 trillion which is to be financed through the following sources: “Proceeds of sales of government property privatization proceeds, federal government’s consolidated share of the proposed ECA of 2010 (US$ 2.1 Billion) among others.

Omisore explained that downward revisions were made in the recurrent budget proposals in order to boost provisions for capital savings.

The N1.853trillion capital budget is N831 more than the provision made for capital in the 2009 budget approved by the National Assembly.

Noting the delay in the processing of the 2010 budget, the report as presented noted repeated revisions by the presidency in the processing of the budget.

He said: “Whilst the exercise was going on, the executive drew our attention to additional funding requirements. The additional requests came by way of amendments and replacement of existing figures and new allocations. All these were accommodated in our final computation. In doing this, we see budgeting as a national exercise in which the executive and the National Assembly must collaborate in the overall interest of the Nigerian people. In the course of the exercise, the total additions and adjustments by the executive were captured in the sum of N336bn. This shows the rise of executive proposal from N4, 079 trillion to N4, 415 trillion.

“It is necessary to mention that the additional requests we received from Federal Ministry of Finance, were referred to the affected sub-committees for legislative actions. We would like to also mention that one of the major reasons for the delay in presentation of the report was due to series of correspondences from the executive for additional requirements. It is on record that as we finished sequence of adjustments others were sent. We therefore advise that the executive should complete their work on time and minimize further submission after presentation of the initial proposal. For instance, we received the last correspondence for adjustment on 8th March, 2010.”

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