Buhari Needs Sufficient Time to Review 2018 Budget—Minister

By Dipo Olowookere

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Udoma Udoma, on Monday disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari will only sign the 2018 budget after he is satisfied with its contents.

The 2018 Appropriation Bill was passed by the National Assembly last month after it was submitted by the President in November 2017.

Few days ago, the passed budget was transmitted to Mr Buhari by the parliament for his assent. The President had proposed to spend N8.6 trillion in this fiscal year, but the National Assembly raised it to N9.1 trillion.

With the general elections slated for next year, Nigerians are waiting to see how things would play out especially with a recent revelation by the former Minister of Finance, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that the immediate administration of Mr Goodluck Jonathan paid N17 billion bribe to lawmakers to have the 2015 budget passed.

She had disclosed in page 80 of her book that the bribe was included in the budget and was termed “election expenses.”

Speaking yesterday with BusinessDay in an interview, Mr Udoma disclosed that President Buhari would need a little more time to scrutinise the budget before appending his signature on it.

“The President is currently reviewing the budget. As soon as he is through, he will sign it. That is what l can tell you for now,” he said.

However, the Minister did not state how long the President would take to finish reviewing the budget, but he said, “As you know, we have a minimum window of 30 days.”

Going by this, if the President is satisfied with the budget, he should sign it into law before the of this month, but if is not okay with the passed budget, he will return it to the parliament for adjustment like it happened last year.

Business Post reports that passage of the Appropriation Bill was delayed because of the power tussle between the parliament and the executive. In March, President Buhari, after a meeting with lawmakers, had to direct Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to defend their budgets at the National Assembly.

President Buhari submitted the 2018 budget to the National Assembly in an attempt to return to Nigeria to the usual January to December budget cycle from this year. However, that has now been defeated with the budget not yet signed into law.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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