President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration has prioritised the repair and construction of roads within the country, unlike his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, who earmarked very little for infrastructure.
Mr. Buhari said this in a speech Friday before signing the 2016 budget into law.
“To illustrate our renewed commitment to infrastructural development, the 2016 budget allocates over N200 billion to road construction as against a paltry N18 billion allocated for same purpose in the 2015 budget,” President Buhari said.
The president said his administration earmarked N350 billion for capital construction projects, with the hope that figure ill help stimulate the country’s ailing economy.
“The signing of the budget today will trigger concerted efforts to reflate the Nigerian economy, a key element of which is an immediate injection of N350bn into the economy by way of capital projects,” he said.
The 2016 budget was signed Friday afternoon after months of bickering by the executive and the National Assembly over figures and projects proposed in the document.
At the event, Mr. Buhari thanked all those who worked to make the budget a reality, including leaders of the National Assembly.
“It gives me great pleasure today to sign the first full-year budget of this administration into law. I thank the leadership of the National Assembly, in particular, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and indeed all members of the National Assembly for their cooperation in making this a reality,” Mr. Buhari said.
The president pledged a smoother process for the 2017 budget cycle.
“The budget is intended to signpost a renewal of our commitment to restoring the budget as a serious article of faith with the Nigerian people. This Administration is committed to ensuring that henceforth the annual appropriation bill is presented to the National Assembly in time for the passage of the Act before the beginning of the fiscal year.”
Mr. Buhari said details of the budget will be made available by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma.
“Through the 2016 budget, aptly titled “Budget of Change’’, the government seeks to fulfil its own side of the social contract. The Budget I have signed into law provides for aggregate expenditures of N6.06trn. Further details of the approved budget, as well as our Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget, will be provided by the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning.
“I shall be speaking in more details about the Budget, its implementation and the over-all national economic and social policies of the Government in my address on May 29th, God willing,” Mr. Buhari said.
Mr. Buhari said his administration exercised prudence in signing the budget because of falling crude oil prices.
“In designing the 2016 budget, we made a deliberate choice to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy despite the huge decline in government revenues from crude oil exports. This is why we decided to enlarge the budget deficit at this time, to be financed principally through foreign and domestic borrowings. All borrowings will, however, be applied towards growth-enhancing capital expenditures.
“Despite the current difficulties, we will work extra-hard to achieve our revenue projections. Our revenue generating agencies are coming under better management and are being re-oriented. The implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) is expected to contribute significantly to improving transparency over government revenues.
“Our determined fight against corruption is resulting in improvements in the quality of public expenditure. The work of the Efficiency Unit, as well as other public financial management initiatives, are also contributing in this regard. The continuing efforts to reduce recurrent expenditures should hopefully free up more funds for capital expenditure in 2017 and beyond,” he said.
The president said Nigeria was experiencing perhaps the toughest economic times in its history.
“As I said in my New Year message, living in State House does not in any way alienate me from your daily struggles. I read the newspapers and listen to the TV and radio news. I hear your cries. I share your pains.
“We are experiencing probably the toughest economic times in the history of our Nation. I want to commend the sacrifice, resilience and toughness of all Nigerians young and old who have despite the hardships continued to have hope and confidence of a great future for Nigerians. But permit me to say that this government is also like none other. We are absolutely committed to changing the structure of the Nigerian economy once and for all.
“We are working night and day to diversify the economy so that we never again have to rely on one commodity to survive as a country. So that we can produce the food we eat, make our own textiles, produce most of the things we use. We intend to create the environment for our young peoples to be able to innovate and create jobs through technology,” Mr. Buhari said.