2019 budget has N103 billion funding gap, says Udoma

Immediate past Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, yesterday said the nation’s 2019 budget had a funding gap of N102.83 billion.

He, however, linked the development to the increase made by the National Assembly.

During the public presentation of the budget signed into law on Monday by President Muhammadu Buhari, Udoma insisted that by increasing the size of the document and reducing proposed borrowing, the federal lawmakers created the unfunded deficit.

His words: “Executive revenue assumptions were generally approved and adopted by the National Assembly, except for unexplained increases totalling N31.5 billion on some non-oil revenue lines.

“It increased the budget size from N8.83 trillion to N8.92 trillion, translating to an increase of N90.33 billion.

“This has resulted in an overall increase of N58.83 billion in deficit. Inexplicably, the National Assembly reduced the proposed borrowing from N1.649 trillion to N1.605 trillion, thus creating an overall unfunded deficit of N102.83 billion.

“To fully fund the budget, the level of borrowing may therefore have to increase.”

He said that the overall budget deficit was N1.918 trillion as against N1.859 trillion in the executive proposal, representing 1.37 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Udoma added that the deficit would be funded mainly by borrowing N1.605 trillion split equally between domestic and foreign borrowing.

A breakdown of the piece of legislation shows that the Interior Ministry received N564.22 billion while the Ministries of Education and Defence got N463.40 billion and N430 billion.

On the flip side, the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is to lead the pack of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the allocation of funds for capital projects’ implementation with a vote of N394.91 billion.

The Ministry of Transportation follows with a N179.38 billion vote while the Ministry of Defence places third with an allocation of N159.13 billion.

Besides, the Senate has approved a budget of N243,374 billion for the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCT) in the 2019 fiscal year.

Of the amount, N55,043,425,247 is for personnel costs, N57,610,188,661 for overhead while the balance of N130,720,897,169 is for capital projects.

It also sanctioned $266 million as contained in the 2016-2018 external borrowing plan for Niger State Development Policy Operation (DPO).

Moreover, the upper chamber of the National Assembly sanctioned N68.9 billion as outstanding subsidy claims to 20 petroleum marketers.

Also yesterday, it concurred with the House of Representatives Bill on Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions)(Repeal) Bill 2019.

This followed the presentation of the bill by Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, at plenary.