President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday signed the 2016 Appropriation Bill of N6.06 trillion into law with an oil benchmark of $38 dollars per barrel.
The event, which took place at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, was witnessed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and National Chairman of the ruling APC John Odigie-Oyegun.
Buhari said at the event that through the 2016 budget, 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 N6.06 trillion,’’ he said.
According to Buhari, 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’’.
He said that in designing the 2016 budget, the administration made a deliberate choice to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy in spite of the huge decline in government revenues from crude oil exports.
He said that was why it decided “to enlarge the budget deficit at this time, to be financed principally through foreign and domestic borrowings’’.
The president noted that all borrowings would however be applied towards growth-enhancing capital expenditures.
He also reassured that in spite of the current difficulties the administration would work extra-hard to achieve its revenue projections.
“Our revenue generating agencies are coming under better management and are 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 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 added.
Buhari observed that Nigerians were experiencing probably the toughest economic times in the history of the nation and added that he was not alienated from the peoples’ struggle.
“I read the newspapers and listen to the TV and radio news; I hear your cries; I share your pains. 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,’’ he said.
The president said government was working hard to diversify the economy such that the country would never again have to rely on one commodity to survive.
He said the aim was that we could produce the food we eat, make our own textiles and produce most of things we use. We intend to create the environment for our young peoples to be able to innovate and create jobs through technology.’’
He acknowledged that the journey might not be easy but in the interest of many, government had to tread the difficult path.
But I can assure you this government you have freely elected will work with honesty and dedication day and night to ensure that our country prospers and that the prosperity benefits all Nigerians,’’ he said.
Buhari expressed pleasure in the signing of the budget and thanked the leadership of the National Assembly for their cooperation.