President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday presented a budget proposal of N4.2 billion to the joint session of the National Assembly with emphasis that job and wealth creation for teeming unemployed Nigerians would top the agenda of his administration in the coming fiscal dispensation.
The initial schedule of the president to make the presentation at 12 noon yesterday at the green chambers of the House of Represents, was rescheduled to 2 p.m. He was later accompanied to the venue by his Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Abba Aji, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Yayale Ahmed, and several ministers.
The one-hour budget speech, which Jonathan said was tailored towards the roadmap of Vision 20-2020, indicates a breakdown of statutory allocation of N196.4 billion, Debt Servicing of N532 billion, N2.4 trillion recurrent expenditure, N1.5 trillion capital budget, exchange rate of N150/$; joint venture cash calls of $5.4 billion and N2.53 trillion for total revenue.
He promised that with the oil benchmark projected to be $65 per barrel at production rate of 2.3 million barrel per day, GDP among Nigerians would increase to 7.85 per cent in 2011.
Jonathan, who promised that the proposed budget is also aimed at reducing rising overhead cost, stated series of ongoing initiative of his administration to tackle power and unemployment issues.
He said N80 billion intervention funds had been earmarked to kickstart series of job creation and skill acquisition schemes across all levels of the society, adding that a Special Adviser that would see to the acceleration of the plans would soon be appointed.
The budget, which he tagged Budget of Fiscal Consideration, Economic Prosperity and Wealth Creation, had forced his administration to take hard decisions, some of which include cut in overhead of MDA’s and government parastatals.
While reminding that his administration had not relented in its efforts to improve lives of ordinary Nigerians, he said despite serious financial challenges, the GDP has raised from 7.3 per cent to 7.8 per cent in the first quarter of the year and expressed confidence that inflation rate, which was 13.9 per cent, in April this year would be 13.4 per cent by the end of the year.
On power stability, Jonathan who acknowledged that power failure had remained a bane of industrial growth in the country, revealed that to privatise distribution and generation of power, a N500 billion special intervention funds as loans to private players at single digit rate is in the budget.
He also disclosed that another N500 billion in the proposed budget would be made available for the financial sector to enable it meet with challenges posed by global financial crisis which had prevented them to give out loans.
Jonathan noted that his government was worried by the wide margin that exists between overhead of government agencies and capital expenditure and said a preliminary report of a committee set up to check such is being reviewed, as about N12 billion in overhead has been recovered.
According to him, N149 billion had been cashed back by end of third of quarter of the year with an expectation of N900 billion to be cashed back by the end of the fourth quarter in capital expenditure.
He restated the position of government on credible revenue profile to block leakages in government revenue with particular reference to the Customs in the year ahead.
Jonathan, who said yesterday’s presentation was unique being his first time in the Assembly Complex, urged the National Assembly to join hands with the administration to ensure that the proposed budget meets its target of alleviating challenges currently facing the citizenry.
Meanwhile, Senate President David Mark yesterday assured that members of the National Assembly were ready to reduce overhead cost ahead of 2011 to serve as an example to other arms of government.
Mark said the nation was worried by...
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