FG plans to spend 9.5% of 2018 budget on roads, power, housing and rail projects
…proposes N8.61 trillion for 2018 budget


FEDERAL Government is planning to consolidate on the achievements in 2017 by spending 9.5 percent of proposed 2018 budget on two key ministries.
Presenting the N8.61 trillion 2018 proposed budget to the joint house of the National Assembly in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari said the projected expenditure will drive rapid economic recovery.
According to the appropriation bill for 2018, the key capital spending allocations in the 2018 Budget include Power, Works and Housing with N555.88 billion; Transportation: N263.10 billion; Special Intervention Programmes: N150 billion; Defence: N145 billion; Agriculture and Rural Development N118.98 billion and Industry, Trade and Investment with N82.92 billion.
Also, Interior is expected to gulp N63.26 billion; Education N61.73 billion; Universal Basic Education Commission: N109.06 billion; Health: N71.11 billion; Federal Capital Territory: N40.30 billion; Zonal Intervention Projects N100.00 billion; North East Intervention Fund N45.00 billion; Niger Delta Ministry: N53.89 billion; and Niger Delta Development Commission: N71.20 billion.
President Buhari said at the session that with a benchmark of 45 dollars per barrel at an exchange rate of N305 to a dollar in 2018, the budget would consolidate on the achievements of previous budgets to aggressively steer the economy to the path of steady growth.
“With the economic recovery made so far, it is clear that we made the right decisions.
“And I urge you all to support the Federal Government’s policies towards economic recovery,’’ he said.
Mr. Buhari said the government would continue to develop infrastructure and increase investments in agriculture to attain food security and reduce importation.
He added that while the Federal Government was committed to identifying alternative means of funding new projects, there was need to continue to pursue public private partnership, to provide more infrastructure in the country.
According to him, the Federal Government has been able to construct or rehabilitate about 776-kilometer roads in 2017.
The president said the construction of Abuja metroline had attained 98 per cent completion, adding that work had commenced on the Ajaouta-Itakpe rail line which was abandoned for 17 years.
He said the project would be delivered in September 2018, adding that the country’s power sector would witness a turn around.
In his remark, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, emphasised the need for government to increase non-oil revenue generation.
Saraki said that as the country gradually recovered from recession, it was important to reset the fundamentals that drove the economy so that it would not slide back into recession.
He added that “we must reassess the relationship between oil and our economy. Oil prices are gradually inching up, but that is no reason for complacency in our diversification drive.
“We must grow our economy away from oil and increase attention to other sources of revenue generation.”
He also stressed the need for emphasis on tax collection, saying other independent revenues from state-owned enterprises must be taken seriously.
“If the budget is to be funded, we cannot afford to turn blind eye to revenue under-performance.
“While there is need to review extant laws guiding the operation of some government enterprises, I would call for more determined effort on the part of the executive, to block leakages.
“This sector alone accounts for over N40 trillion in valuation, of which less than N400 billion is remitted as revenue to Consolidated Federation Account. This is not acceptable. We need to vigorously address this area,” Saraki said.
The president of the senate commended President Muhammadu Buhari, the Economic Management Team, lawmakers, well as Nigerians, for working together to make the necessary sacrifices to get the economy out of recession.
He added that “without doubt, this recovery benefitted from greater policy coordination, prioritisation and passage of economic reform bills, but more importantly, the resilience of the Nigerian people.”
He furthers said that the implementation of the 2018 budget and how it was implemented would be a defining element of the present administration.
“We must therefore continue to work together to steady the ship of this recovery.”
“Further to the area of increasing independent revenue, there is need to review agreements that government signed with some private sector service providers.
“Many of these agreements are biased, and clearly not in the interest of the country.
“We appreciate the need to spend, but we must ensure that our borrowing is targeted at productive projects that will stimulate the economy.
“We must also ensure real value-for-money in projects funded by borrowing and ensure that the projects are not overpriced.”
Saraki called for the submission of the 2018 budget to ensure consistency in government’s economic programmes and tax policies.
He said“ this bill, which should clearly detail the imposition, alteration or regulation of taxes such as the proposed tax on luxury items and excise taxes, among others, will put the financial proposals of government into effect.”