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Presidency explains why presentation of 2019 budget is delayed

- The presidency has explained the presentation of the 2019 budget to the National Assembly is being delayed due to some outstanding budget related bills before the Assembly

- Senator Solomon Ita-Enag said if the executive must present the budget proposals, it would first take a cursory look at the overall performance of the 2018 budget that was approved

- Ita-Enag dismissed claims that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was having the highest turnover of rejected bills

The presidency on on Thursday, November 22, said it has yet to present the 2019 budget to the National Assembly because it is expecting the passage of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework/Fiscal Strategy Paper by the legislature, The Punch report gathered that the senior special assistant to the president on national assembly matters (Senate) Solomon Ita-Enag, stated this during an interview with journalists in Abuja .

Ita-Enag also denied that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was having the highest turnover of rejected bills.

According to him, the government has so far considered 100 bills in the last three and half years, insisting it is the highest record by any administration since 1999.

On the 2019 budget, Ita-Enang said arrangements had reached an advanced stage to transmit the national budget to the legislature.

He said: “When President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the 2019 budget, he had reservations, but after having understanding with the legislature, he sent in amendments and asked for virement.

“That (approval) is still being awaited; it has not been done. He (Buhari) has also sent in his requests for other funds for other agencies from virement, which is still pending.

“He sent in his requests for loan for the approval of external finances through Eurobond and other windows. That has just been approved few weeks ago. They (executive) are in the process of raising money to fund the budget.”

Ita-Enang explained that in presenting the 2019 budget, the executive would have to take into account the level of the implementation of the 2018 budget so that it would know how to project for next year’s budget.

He said: “The budget is almost ready. The president has transmitted to the National Assembly the request for the approval of the MTEF and the approval of the Fiscal Strategy Paper.

“It is the MTEF that set out the budget parameters for the benchmark of oil, the exchange rate, the money projected to realise from solid minerals, internal revenue from oil and borrowings.

“It is this that enables you to deal with budget projections. That document is pending before the legislature.

“Since the legislature is still working on the MTEF/FSP document, we are going to use the parameters that we used as the budget benchmark of oil, exchange rate, excess crude projection and other sources of revenue as submitted to prepare the budget.”

He added, “We will work with the legislature when they eventually pass the MTEF/FSP. That is where we are on the budget but every necessary step has been taken by the executive for the presentation of the document. The budget of 2018 will expire in June next year.”

In a previous report by fedral government had proposed a smaller budget size of N8.6 trillion for 2019 fiscal year compared to 2018 budget figure of N9.1 trillion.

The federal government also envisaged a total revenue projection of N7.9 trillion, reductions in both borrowing and deficit financing going by provisions contained in 2019- 2021 medium term expenditure framework/fiscal strategy paper unveiled on Thursday, October 18, in Abuja by the minister of budget and national planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma. .

While addressing members of the public comprising the media and members of civil society organizations, Udoma said the government was oblivious of revenue challenges assailing it.