Posted by Simon Imobo-Tswam, Abuja | 7 March 2013 | 2,904 times
National Security takes the lion’s share of the 2013 Budget – a princely N950 billion, out of which the Armed Forces get N364 billion, the police N320 billion, Office of the National Security Adviser N115 billion and the Ministry of the Interior N154 billion.
Others are: Critical Infrastructure (including Power, Works, Transport, Aviation, Gas pipelines, and Federal Capital Territory) – N497 billion; Human Capital Development (i.e. Education and Health) – N705 billion; and Agriculture/Water Resources – N175 billion.
The Coordinating Minister of the Economy/Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, gave these details during a sectoral analysis of the budget this afternoon at Transorp Hotel, Abuja.
She however debunked rumours that the delay in the passage of the budget was deliberately orchestrated by the Presidency so as to mop up unspent funds in the 2012 budget against the 2015 general elections.
The minister, who threw light on the circumstances that led to the budget crisis, said: “I reject the insinuation of 2015 or politics into the budget issue totally. There was no issue or instance of scooping money for 2015. Let us be fair, even to the politicians. Besides being false, such repots paint the picture of all Nigerians being corrupt or thieves, which is not true.”
Saying the delay in the passage was due to “the moving around” of some projects and funds by the National Assembly, for which the Presidency was not comfortable, Okonjo-Iweala explained that “this year’s budget process would better so that the 2014 budget is fairly smooth as all of us are learning.”
According to her, the 2013 budget of N4.987 trillion promotes the continuity of the four main pillars on which the 2012 Budget, namely: Macroeconomic stability, Structural reforms, Governance and institutions, and Investing in priority sectors.
“This budget continues the theme of fiscal consolidation with inclusive growth and is underpinned by the following parameters: Oil production of 2.53 million barrels per day compared to 2.48 million barrels per day in 2012; Benchmark oil price of $79 per barrel, up from $72 per barrel in 2012; Projected real GDP growth rate of6.5 per cent and Average Exchange Rate of N160/$,” she added.
The Finance Minister gave the priorities of the budget as the reduction in the cost of governance, the restructuring the budget in favour of capital expenditure, the extension of IPPIS to more MDAs, the commencement implementation of the Steve Oronsaye report while awaiting the “White Paper” and the debt management/sinking fund – retiring maturing obligations.
Others are: Focus on infrastructure , especially ongoing capital projects, Job creation through (a) reducing infrastructure challenges, (b) YouWin, SURE-P, etc., as well as fiscal measures aimed at promoting domestic industry and creating employment as well as supporting gender programmes and sporting activities.
Against the backdrop of criticisms that the 2012 budget did not perform, the minister said the 2012 budget financed a number of important projects across the country, including the rehabilitation of tracks for the Lagos-Kano railway line; the ongoing construction of the East-West Road and the dualisation of the Kano-Maiduguri Highway.
“In spite of the turbulent global economic environment and changing global oil map, the Nigerian economy has been resilient, experiencing a robust growth in 2012 of 6.5 per cent compared with global growth of 3.2 per cent. Inflation is now down to single-digits at 9 per cent in January 2013, compared with 12.6 per cent in January 2012. Our fiscal deficit is on a downward trajectory, and below our threshold of 3 per cent, while the exchange rate has remained stable,” she stated.
Speaking further, the minister said: “Government is also building up the necessary savings to cushion the economy against a possible global recession or collapse of oil prices. For instance, the balance in the excess crude account has increased from $4.22 billion in August 2011 to about $9 billion at the end of 2012.
“In addition, we have launched Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, with an initial capitalization of $1 billion, and we hope to increase this Fund further in the future. Our foreign reserves have also grown steadily, and now stand at $47.38 billion as at the end of February 2013 – the highest level for almost 3 years!
“There has been strong external validation of the management of Nigeria’s economy, despite the global economic slowdown. The leading international rating agencies – Fitch, Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s – have upgraded the outlook for the Nigerian economy, even at a time when other developed and emerging economies are being downgraded.
“Nigeria’s domestic bonds have also gained international prominence, and were recently included in the JP Morgan and Barclays Emerging Market indices. All these external endorsements provide further testimony to our strong macroeconomic fundamentals.”
She continued: “The 2013 Budget makes provision for an aggregate expenditure of N4.987 trillion, representing a modest increase of 6.2% over the N4.697 trillion appropriated for 2012.
“This is made up of N387.97billion for Statutory Transfers; N591.76 billion for Debt Service; N2.38 trillion for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure, of which N1.717 trillion is the provision for personnel cost while overhead cost is projected at N208.9; and a total of N1.62 trillion has been provisioned for Capital Expenditure. In addition, N273.5 billion has been provisioned for the Subsidy Reinvestment (SURE-P) programme.
“Based on the above assumptions, the gross federally collectible revenue is projected at N11.34 trillion, of which the total revenue available for the Federal Government’s Budget is forecast at N4.1 trillion, representing an increase of 15 per cent over the estimate for 2012. Non-oil revenue is projected to sustain its growth in 2013.”
•Photo: Dr. Okonjo-Iweala.
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