President Goodluck Jonathan Wednesday signed the 2014 Budget into law and handed it over to Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Friday, several weeks after the National Assembly passed the Appropriation Act.
Confirming this yesterday, Okonjo-Iweala gave a breakdown of the N4.964 trillion budget in Abuja, without indicating if the alleged distortions had been cleared, stated that Defence got the lion share of N968.127 billion.
Information Minister, Labaran Maku, had last week told journalists that the president declined to sign the bill because it was “distorted” by the National Assembly.
“There are few areas of distortions and there are those areas that are very serious; and we think there is a need to look into them because of the negative impact those distortions may have on the implementation of the budget. The contentious areas were being resolved with the lawmakers,” Maku said.
Okonjo-Iweala, while speaking on military funding, debunked claims that poor funding had posed an impediment to a successful military campaign against terror in some northern states, arguing that government had continued to provide the needed funds to prosecute the war.
According to her, the military has so far received N130.7 billion between January and April, 2014 while another N3.8 billion already approved by President Goodluck Jonathan is being processed and would soon be released to the military. She added that of the disbursed N130.7 billion, N85.9 billion was for personnel cost.
“Defence spending is top in everything. You know that military establishments need new things to assist them in their work and ours will not be different. No budget will be enough to meet their demands but for now. I think the sector takes almost a trillion of the budget.”
She explained that the military was in charge of its personnel salaries “because they are yet to be integrated into the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Management System (IPPIS).”
The minister argued that the late passage and signing of the 2014 budget would not impede the running of the economy, noting that the existing laws confers on the executive, powers to spend up to 50 percent of the annual budget pending its passage and signing.
“That is exactly what we have done and we have disbursed N200 billion for the first quarter of the 2014 based on what the law allows us to do. So, the effect of the delay may be relatively minimal,” she said.
The minister disclosed that N571 billion would be borrowed to take care of fiscal deficit, a figure she said, was a one percent deficit gap, adding that when juxtaposed within the context of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) provisions, which allows for three per cent as well as global best practices, is reasonable.
The Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Dr. Bright Okogu, who gave the budget breakdown for the key sectors, disclosed that out of the aggregate budget, the education sector got N495.2 billion; health N264.46 billion; Niger–Delta Ministry N113.6billion; agriculture N67.04 billion, water resources N52.28 billion; power N102 billion; works N133.72 billion and SURE-P N268.37 billion.
“The budget as passed, comes to a total figure of N4.695 trillion of expenditure as passed by the national Assembly. In addition to this, SURE-P has N268.37 billion set aside specifically to handle issues that has to do with SURE-P. If you take the two together, it comes to N4.96 trillion,” she said.
Okogu said recurrent expenditure, comprising salaries and overhead transfers among others, accounted for N2.455 trillion of the budget, putting the allocation for debt service at N712 billion while capital expenditure takes N1.119 trillion as against N1.59 trillion in 2013.
The sum of N408.69 billion, he said, is set aside as statutory transfers to service certain identified government organs.
“Statutory transfers are monies that are sent directly to certain identified organs of government. The National Assembly is one of them. The NDDC is another one; UBEC, human rights and few others benefits under the window of statutory transfers,’’ he said
With oil benchmark based on $77.5 and 2.388 million barrel oil production per day compared to 2.5 million barrel per day in 2013 budget, Okogu added that the budget is also based on $160 to the naira, same as in 2013 budget.
“Aggregate revenue projected for the three tiers of government is N10.88 trillion and the federal government will receive N3.73 trillion against N4.1 trillion received in 2013,” he said.