FG’ll ensure effective implementation of 2018 Budget – Minister

The Federal Government says it is determined to ensure effective implementation of the 2018 Budget notwithstanding the delay it encountered before it was signed into law.

Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, Minister of Budget and Planning, gave the assurance on Thursday in Abuja, at the presentation of the approved 2018 “Budget of Consolidation’’.

The N9.12 trillion 2018 budget was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, after it was increased from N8.61 trillion by the National Assembly.

Giving a breakdown of the allocations, Udoma said that capital expenditure would gulp 31.5 per cent of the total expenditure (or N2.87 trillion), adding that that was more than N2.36 trillion allocated in 2017.

Recurrent non-debt spending would rise from N2.99 trillion in 2017 to N3.51 trillion in 2018.

Udoma said that the Federal Government planned to spend N2.01 trillion (or 21 per cent of the budget) on debt servicing, adding that provision to retire maturing bonds to local contractors increased by seven per cent, from N177 billion in 2017 to N190 billion in 2018.

He said that that was in view of the ambitious plan to liquidate all the Federal Government contractor arrears going back several years.

He said that the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing had the highest allocation of N715 billion for both recurrent and capital expenditure, while the Ministry of Interior would get N577 billion, just as the Ministry of Defence was allocated N576 billion.

Ministry of Education was allocated N542 billion; Ministry of Health N356 billion; Ministry of Transportation N267 billion, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development N203 billion.

Others are Ministry of Water Resources (N155 billion), Office of the National Security Adviser (N123 billion), Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (N118 billion), as well as the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (N116 billion).

He added that the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation was allocated N112 billion.

Udoma, while highlighting some of the projects to be carried out in the year said infrastructure, security and human development were the focus of the government.

He said N530.8 million would be used in constructing the terminal building at the Enugu airport, while N8.32 billion was allocated for the construction of the second runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

He said that while N162.28 billion was scheduled as counterpart funding for railway projects, N9.4 billion was set aside as counterpart fund for the Mambilla hydro power project among others.

He said that N344 billion was allocated for the construction and rehabilitation of several roads nationwide, adding that N26.7 billion was allocated for Federal Government National Housing Programme.

For health, he said N55.15 billion has been provisioned for the implementation of the National Health Act, while N300 million has been set aside for health emergencies and contagious diseases outbreaks.

For agriculture, Udoma said over N25.1 billion was allocated for promotion and development of value chain across more than 30 different commodities to ensure food security, adding that N5.30 billion was allocated for National Grazing Reserve Development.

He also said that procurement of ammunitions of various types and calibers would cost N5.3 billion, while construction of new military barracks in five geo-political zones would gulp N2.3 billion.

For mines and steel, he said N644 million would be used for the establishment of mining regulatory agency for the sector and N450 million would be used to reclaim abandoned mine sites.

For education, Udoma said the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), was allocated N109 billion, while N9.2 billion was allocated for various scholarship allowances.

He added that N65 billion was budgeted for re-integration of transformed ex-militants under the Presidential Amnesty Programme, while N45 billion was allocated for the Federal Initiative for North-East (Pilot counterpart funding contribution).

Udoma said that the goals of the budget were to consolidate on the gains recorded so far by the administration, and to ensure that all Nigerians benefitted from the economic progress envisaged.

In his address, Mr Ben Akabueze, Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, said the Federal Government would work with the National Assembly to ensure that the nation returns to the January to December budget cycle.

He expressed the hope that the budget would be the last to be signed in the middle of a new year.

He said that in furtherance of the Federal Government’s commitment to Open Government Partnership (OGP), the office was desirous of improving citizens’ access to and understanding of the budget. (NAN)