The Presidency is not in agreement with the National Assembly over the legislature’s decision to increase the estimate for the 2022 national budget by N1 trillion.
The increase has sparked misgivings at the seat of power, sources said, with the Federal Government already weighing its options on the development.
The President, on October 7, presented a bill of N16,391,023,917,692 to the National Assembly.
The lawmakers, however, passed the budget on Wednesday after increasing it from N16,391,023,917,692 to N17,126,873,917,692.
The N17. 1 trillion bill was sent to the President yesterday for assent.
Entitled “Appropriation Bill 2022,” the budget was forwarded to the President by the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Ojo Olatunde Amos, with a covering letter.
The letter reads: “In consonance with the Provisions of the Acts Authentication Act Cap. A2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, I wish, with due respect, to forward to Your Excellency, the authenticated copies of Appropriation Bill, 2022 for your consideration and assent.
“After Your Excellency’s assent, one copy of the signed Bill should be retained in your office while the other two are to be returned for our further action, please. With my highest regards.”
A top source, however, said the Federal Government would look at the budget, especially allocations either adjusted or added to it.
The source said: “The government submitted a proposal to the National Assembly and the lawmakers within their constitutional powers increased it by N1 trillion. This is on the high side.
“Now that the budget has been passed, the government will take another look at the estimates before President Buhari assents it. We will pay attention to areas where the budget was jacked up.
“The Federal Government may not agree with the lawmakers on the increase but it will engage them before the President signs the bill into law.
“The National Assembly did not put into consideration the fact that we have limited resources to fund the budget. The alternative is taking loans to finance it. Yet, the mood of the nation does not support fresh loans.
“It is also our duty to make the National Assembly know if the budget new oil price benchmark of $62 per barrel set by the lawmakers is realistic or not. You know the Executive based its projections on $57 per barrel.
“So, we have to open up to the National Assembly on what we think are the ways out. Since the President is now in receipt of the bill, the Executive will quickly study it.”
After passing the bill, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said in part: ” [And] we are very optimistic that Mr. President will assent to the bill, like he did for 2020 and 2021 so that by January 2022, the implementation of the budget 2022 will commence by the grace of God.
“We have seen the benefits of passing and assenting to the budget in good time, especially when we had to fight COVID-19.
“The consequence of the implementation of the budget in 2021 and 2020 was very clear.
“For us to come out of the recession that we found ourselves in the previous period, we must have had the fortune of passing the budget and getting Mr. President to sign in time.
“So, we believe that the economy of Nigeria and Nigerian businesses especially will continue to benefit from the passage of the appropriation bills in time and the assent by Mr. President, accordingly.
“We wish to make it clear that our desire is to provide legislations for the peace, order, and good government of our country.”
Lawan, during a visit to the President on Thursday night, had said Buhari would sign the appropriation bill this week.
The Senate President, who met with the President alongside House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, said Buhari personally invited them for the purpose of thanking the National Assembly through its leaders for the members’ services to the nation.
He said: “Mr. President invited the honourable speaker and me to come so he could thank the National Assembly through us for working so hard to pass the 2022 appropriation bill, which will be brought to Mr. President for his assent by next week by the grace of God.
“We’re very optimistic. In fact, we’re very sure that Mr President will sign the bill into an act of the National Assembly next week by the grace of God. And this is the way we should always work together. This is our third appropriation bill to be passed before we go on Christmas break.
“It has shown how important the passage and the assent to the budget before the end of the year have been. You will recall that we were in two or three different recessions, but because public expenditure, which normally drives our economy as a developing economy, has always brought that advantage, made the availability of funds into the economy. And we can come out of the recess periods.
“So, I want to thank Mr President for thanking the National Assembly, because this is essentially the reason why he invited the Speaker and I to say that National Assembly, thank you very much for working with us for making this budget 2022 pass in good time as you did for 2020 and 2021.”