Inside Details: Why I delayed signing 2017 budget — Osinbajo
Twenty-four days after the National Assembly transmitted the 2017 budget to the executive, acting President Yemi Osinbajo Monday finally signed the bill into law, with a resolve by the executive and legislature that the former would send a virement request to the National Assembly for the restoration of the budget alterations to the original document presented to the lawmakers by President Muhammadu Buhari last December.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo further explained why he delayed signing the 2017 appropriation bill into law.
Speaking shortly before assenting to the law on Monday, the acting President said the delay was due to disagreements between the executive and the National Assembly on the changes made in the original submission.
According to him, the executive believed the changes fundamentally affected some of its priority programmes and would make implementation extremely difficult and in some cases impossible.
He said the leadership of the National Assembly however “adopted a commendably patriotic and statesmanlike approach on engagement in resolving these critical issues.’’
Mr. Osinbajo said the executive only agreed to sign the law after the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, made commitments to re-instate budgetary allocations for all important executive projects.
He listed the projects to include the railway standard gauge project, Mambilla power project, the second Niger Bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan expressway among others.
Mr. Osinbajo said it was agreed by the parties that the reinstatement would be through an application for virement by the executive which NASS would expeditiously consider.
He also said the implementation of the budget would trigger economic activities, which he said would lead to job creation for young Nigerians, adding that the government was working hard to improve revenue collection efficiency through technology.
The acting president pointed out that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) was designed to improve transparency and accountability, observing that recoveries of looted funds had been factored into the budget.
He also stressed that the budget’s implementation would bring added impetus to the country’s economic recovery.
“The final presentation and the signing of the budget has been considerably delayed. This was largely due to disagreements we had about the changes introduced to our 2017 Budget proposals by the National Assembly.
“The executive took the view that the changes fundamentally affected some of our priority programmes and would make implementation extremely difficult and in some cases impossible.
“I must say that the entire leadership of the National Assembly led by the Senate President and the Speaker, adopted a commendably patriotic and statesmanlike approach to our engagements on resolving these critical issues.
“In sum, the engagements yielded acceptable results. The most important being that the leadership of the National Assembly has given us a commitment that the National Assembly will reinstate the budgetary allocations for all the important executive projects such as the railway standard gauge projects, the Mambilla power project, the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, etc., which they had been reduced to fund some of the new projects they introduced.
“This reinstatement will be by way of an application for virement by the executive which they have agreed will be expeditiously considered and approved by the National Assembly.
“It is as a result of that understanding and the outcome of our detailed engagements that we feel able to sign the 2017 Appropriation Bill into law today.