FG’ll engage 9th Assembly on N8.92 trn 2019 Budget – Udoma

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The Federal Government has resolved to take up the appropriated N8.92 trillion 2019 Budget before the 9th Assembly after its inauguration in order to address some adjustments made by the outgoing legislators.

This would be done by engaging the incoming national Assembly members through dialogue and constructive consultation to take a second look at the cut and the resultant addition of N90.33 billion to the original N8. 83 trillion budget estimate presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Legislature.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, Tuesday in Abuja at the 2019 Budget breakdown session.

He said “Mr. President intends to engage the National Assembly, as soon as it’s inaugurated to seek amendments necessary to ensure electoral promises.

“Mr. President also intends to seek the leadership of the NASS for a smooth process going forward and their collaboration in achieving January-December fiscal year budget cycle”.

Meanwhile against the backdrop of relative peace attained in the fight against insurgency in parts of North East, the Federal Government said  it has allocated the sum of N55 billion  to the North East.

While it earmarked  N45 billion as pilot counterpart funding to develop the area,  it allotted N10 billion grant for the North East Commission.

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who gave the breadown during the Public Presentation of the approved 2019 Budget Breakdown in Abuja, also said that government carried out a similar regional intervention programmes in the South South region where it allocated N65 billion for the reintegration of transformed ex-militants under the Presidential  Amnesty Programme.

In view of the interventions in these areas, he said,  agricultural performance has continued to improve.

According to him, agriculture sector grew in real terms from 1.91 per cent  in Q3 2018 to 2.46 per cent  in Q4  2018  and to 3.17 per cent  in Q1 2019, while headline inflation declined every month since January 2019, albeit increasing slightly in April 2019 to 11.37 per cent  from 11.25 per cent in March 2019.

While admitting that unemployment rate  is still high, the minister said the focus of President Muhammadu Buhari’s  second term would be to reduce joblessness in the country. As employment growth usually takes some time to recover after recession, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data shows that unemployment and underemployment remain high in Nigeria.

“However, we can expect reduction in the rate of unemployment, as we continue to implement the policies and programmes of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which are directed at creating more diversified and inclusive growth.

“Mr President has indicated that the focus of his second term will be employment generation” he said.

As part of efforts to increase revenue in the oil sector, the president directed  Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),  to take all possible measures to achieve the targeted oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day.

“Militancy in the Niger Delta has generally abated. Production increased from an average of 1.91mbpd in Q4 2018 to an average of 1.96mbpd in Q1 2019.

“Oil production was affected by breaches of pipelines, maintenance and technical issues” he said.

Udoma said, the president has ordered the Ministry of Finance, working with all the relevant authorities, to take action to liquidate all recovered, unencumbered assets and given the improved oil prices and production levels, NNPC is to immediately commence the recovery of all outstanding obligations, including those due from Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) (a subsidiary of NNPC), which it had agreed to pay since 2017.

To increase the revenue side, Buhari also directed that work should be concluded on the deployment of the National Trade Window and other technologies to enhance customs collections efficiency.

However, Udoma observed that  macro-economy has been largely stable and growth  has increased from 0.82 per cent  in 2017 to 1.93 per cent  in 2018 and 3.01 per cent  is expected in 2019, with the continuing implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

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