House to Jonathan: 2012 Budget execution poor

Budget To a packed House chamber, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday presented next year’s budget proposal of N4.92 trillion to the National Assembly.

He got a standing ovation at the end of the expectedly long speech, but the excitement was shortlived.

House Speaker Aminu Tambuwal delivered a damming verdict on this year’s budget: it was poorly implemented, he said in his vote of thanks.

Besides, according to the Speaker, next year’s proposal does not contain revenue from gas and external burning is not neglected.

Jonathan said the N4.92 trillion represented a modest increase of about 5 per cent over the N4.7 trillion appropriated for this year.

He gave the breakdown of the fiscal estimate to include N380.02 billion for Statutory Transfers, N591.76 billion for Debt Service, N2.41 trillion for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure and N1.54 trillion for Capital Expenditure.

The President explained that the budget of “fiscal consolidation with inclusive growth” is underpinned by some parameters which reflect the government’s prudent economic policies in an uncertain global economic environment:

The parameters are oil production of 2.53 million barrels per day, up from 2.48 million barrels per day for 2012.

The benchmark oil price is US$75/barrel, a modest increase from the US$72/barrel approved in the 2012 Budget.

The benchmark price is based on a well established econometric methodology of estimating oil price moving averages, according to the President.

Projected GDP growth rate is estimated at 6.5% compared to 6.85% in the Fiscal Strategy Paper.

The revision, Jonathan said, is underpinned by the fact that the severe floods experienced over large parts of the country are expected to impact on economic activity in 2013, especially agriculture.

He said the growth prospects may improve with the plan to boost dry season farming.

On revenue, the President noted that based on the above assumptions, the gross federally collectible revenue is projected at N10.84 trillion. Of this, the total revenue available for the Federal Government’s Budget is forecast at N3.89 trillion, representing an increase of about 9 per cent over the estimate for 2012.

Non-oil revenue is projected to continue to grow as the ongoing reforms in the revenue collecting agencies, and the implementation of initiatives to further develop the non-oil sector continue to yield results.

He said: “Based on the above, the fiscal deficit is projected to improve to about 2.17 per cent of GDP in the 2013 Budget. compared to 2.85 per cent in 2012.

“This is well within the threshold stipulated in the Fiscal Responsibility

Act, 2007 and clearly highlights our commitment to fiscal prudence.

“We are determined to further rein in domestic borrowing, and this way, ensure that our debt stock remains at a sustainable level.”

Jonathan said the government’s focus on critical economic and social sectors would continue.

According to him, some of the sectors are largely driven by private sector activity. Others require a great deal of public sector support.

Some of the key sector allocations are: Works – N183.5 billion; Power – N74.26billion; Education – N426.53 billion; Health – N279.23 billion;

Defence – N348.91 billion; Police – N319.65 billion; and Agriculture & Rural Development – N81.41 billion.

Jonathan said that power and gas sectors require a lot of investments to sustain supply improvements.

“We shall, therefore, complement available resources with a proposed Infrastructure Euro Bond of about $1 billion in order to complete gas pipelines and other infrastructure investments.

“We have also programmed other grants and soft credits critical to infrastructure and other sectors in our medium term external borrowing plan,” he said.

The President said that Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) will continue with expected resources of N180 billion in 2013 augmented by the projected 2012 unspent balances to bring the total to about N273.5 billion.

The government, he said, hopes to make further progress in the programme, providing additional infrastructure investments and social safety net schemes for Nigerians.

Jonathan laid the 2013 budget for the SURE-P before the Joint Session.

On fiscal policy, he noted that to promote agriculture and industry, the government will continue to implement supportive fiscal measures for some priority areas.

He said: “You will recall that in my 2012 Budget speech, I announced fiscal measures on rice, cassava, wheat and machinery for the agriculture and power sectors.

“In this regard, I am pleased to announce the following additional measures which will be effective from 1st January 2013:

*Sugar: Machinery and spare parts imported for local sugar manufacturing industries will now attract 0per cent duty; there will also be a five-year tax holiday for “sugarcane to sugar” value chain investors.

*Import duty and levy on raw sugar will be 10 per cent and 50per cent respectively, while refined sugar will attract 20percent duty and 60per cent levy;

*Rice: A 10 per cent import duty and 100 per cent levy will be applied to both brown and polished rice;

•Aircraft: All commercial aircraft and aircraft spare parts imported for use in Nigeria will now attract 0 per cent duty and 0 per cent VAT.

•Jonathan noted that the measure will appreciably improve safety “in our skies as newer fleet and less onerous maintenance will prevail.

•Solid Minerals: Machinery and equipment imported for use in the solid minerals sector will now attract 0 per cent import duty and 0 per cent VAT; and

•Public Mass Transit: In order to encourage the production of mass transit vehicles in Nigeria, duty on Completely Knocked Down components (CKD) for mass transit buses of at least 40-seater capacity, will now be 0 per cent, down from 5 per cent.

“Government is desirous of supporting green growth and, in this regard, will explore options for providing incentives for energy efficient vehicles from the 2014 fiscal year,” Jonathan said.

On gender empowerment, he said his administration is gender friendly and has worked to improve the position of women in society and empowered them economically.

He added that to further integrate women in the various sectors, “we have developed an innovative approach to mainstreaming gender issues starting with 5 pilot ministries – Agriculture, Health, Communication Technology, Water Resources and Works”.

These ministries, he said, are signing MOUs with the Ministry of Women Affairs to deliver on specific services for women.

The President noted that the Ministry of Agriculture, for example, will work with the Ministry of Communication Technology to ensure that “5 million women farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs receive mobile phones to be able to access information on agro-inputs through an e-wallet scheme.”

Besides, “the Ministry of Health, in addition to scaling up its ongoing ‘Save a Million Lives’ initiative, plans to give back health and hope to one-third of the pool of young girls and women who have been waiting a long time for VVF repairs through surgery and economic rehabilitation.”

He said the government was in addition, up-scaling routine immunisation.

The President noted that for 2013, the Ministry of Work plans to increase the number of women are employed in public works programmes as contractors, workers and project evaluators, setting itself a target of 35 per cent for women in FERMA rehabilitation work.

According to him, in every geopolitical zone, at least three roads leading to areas where women’s socio-economic activities are concentrated, will be prioritised and completed.

“To support these activities, we have set aside the sum of N3 billion to be disbursed to participating MDAs as incentives for them to deliver on these targets. Our focus on empowering women is part of our agenda for improving the country’s human development indicators.

“In this regard, we shall not relent in our efforts to improve access and quality in our health and education sectors,” he said.

On sports, Jonathan said that the performance of the country’s sportsmen and women continues to strike an important chord for all Nigerians.

He said: “We all recall our disappointment with our performance in the recent Summer Olympics games in London. At the same time, we were very delighted with the success of our paralympics athletes. My Administration is committed to addressing the challenges faced

by our sports men and women.”

Jonathan noted that later this month, he will host a Presidential retreat on sports to strategise on ways to support the sports sector to achieve greater heights.

The President described the proposal as a budget that “gives priority to our concerns for security, infrastructure, food security and human development sectors.”

He went on: “It is a budget that introduces a series of innovative features. This budget is a push in the right direction borne out of our well thought-out and articulated developmental policies.

“This is a budget for every Nigerian. It belongs to the farmer, the investor, the entrepreneur, the youth and the elderly.

“Yes, we have challenges, but also incredible opportunities.

“Ours is the task of transforming these opportunities into real, tangible outcomes which all our people can experience and call their own.

“We need the cooperation of everyone to make it work, to grow the economy, and to create jobs for our people. I continue to call on all Nigerians to act. Making Nigeria work begins with you and me.”

The Nation

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