President Goodluck Jonathan is still not comfortable with what is termed as “distortions” in the 2014 national budget, leading to continued delay in his ascending his signature to it, five months into the year.
Information Minister, Labaran Maku, who made this known when he briefed newsmen at the end of today’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said that the delay in signing the 2014 Budget by President Jonathan has to do with some distortions made by the two chambers of the National Assemby.
He said the distortions were made in areas which he described as very serious, hence the need for the Executive to look into them to avoid their possible negative impacts on the budget implementation.
Maku said that it is very sad that almost in the middle of the year, the Federal Government is operating without a budget, adding that as part of efforts to reconcile the differences in the proposed Bill and the document passed into law, the Ministry of Finance is currently meeting with members of the National Assembly.
The minister expressed the optimism that the reconciliation exercise would soon be concluded, leading to the signing of the budget.
“The Minister of Finance briefed us today at the FEC relating to the progress on the budget. It is very sad that we have almost entered the middle of the year and we don’t have a budget.
“This indeed is sad that the budget has taken so long in coming and practically we have less than seven months to execute the budget.
“We will do everything possible to reconcile the few differences that emerged in what was transmitted to the government by the national Assembly.
“There are few areas of distortions and they 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.
“There is a lot of conversation going on now between the Federal Ministry of Finance and the National Assembly on these issues. And very shortly we believe that we are going to reconcile those areas and then the final budget will be announced to the nation by the President.”
It will be recalled that both chambers of the National Assembly had, in passing the 2014 Budget, raised the figures to N4.695 trillion from the N4.642 trillion estimates submitted by the Executive.
The 2014 budget is made up of statutory transfers, N408.687 billion; debt servicing, N712 billion; recurrent expenditure, N2.454 trillion; and capital expenditure, N1.119 trillion.
In the Appropriation Bill submitted by the Executive, the recurrent expenditure was put at N2.4 trillion while capital expenditure was N1.1 trillion.
The budget passed was based on an oil price benchmark of $77.5 per barrel and crude oil production of 2.3883 million barrels per day.