President Muhammadu Buhari’s Speech at the Signing of the 2021 Budget
SPEECH BY PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI AT THE SIGNING OF THE 2021 APPROPRIATION BILL AND THE 2020 FINANCE BILL INTO LAW ON THURSDAY DECEMBER 31, 2020 AT COUNCIL CHAMBERS, PRESIDENTIAL VILLA, ABUJA.
It gives me great pleasure today to sign the 2021 Appropriation Bill and the enabling 2020 Finance Bill into law. I would like to appreciate the National Assembly, and in particular, thank the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and indeed all distinguished and honourable leaders and members for their cooperation in expeditiously enacting these important money bills. This will enable their implementation to commence by 1st January 2021.
I commend the sustained mutual understanding, collaboration and high-level engagements between officials of the Executive and Legislative Arms of Government, which have made the accelerated enactment of these Bills possible.
We must maintain partnership in the interest of our people, regardless of any differences regarding the Legislative provisions governing our federal budgeting process.
You will recall that I laid the 2021 Appropriation Bill before the Joint Session of the National Assembly on 8th October, 2020, and forwarded the 2020 Finance Bill shortly thereafter. It is very gratifying, indeed, that the National Assembly has completed the important Appropriation process in good time.
The Passage of the 2021 Budget, before the commencement of the 2021 fiscal year, is further confirmation of our firm resolve to maintain a predictable January-to- December fiscal year, as provided for in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
This Administration remains committed to ensuring that the annual Appropriation Bill is presented to the National Assembly in good time for the passage of the Budget before the beginning of the fiscal year. I note, with pleasure, that a growing number of State Governments are now following our lead on this matter.
Towards this end, I have directed that efforts be made to ensure the earlier submission of the 2022-2024 Medium- Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, as well as the 2022 Appropriation Bill, to the National Assembly. Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies are to cooperate with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and more specifically, with the Budget Office of the Federation, to realize this very important objective.
I also wish to thank the National Assembly for completing its work on the 2020 Finance Bill. This Bill is very critical for the successful implementation of the 2021 Budget of “Economic Recovery and Resilience”. Its passage underscores our commitment, as a matter of routine practice, to support Federal Appropriation Bills with annual Finance Bills, designed to facilitate their implementation.
The 2021 Budget that I have just signed into law provides for aggregate expenditures of Thirteen-point- Five- Eight-Eight trillion Naira (N13.588 trillion), representing an increase of five Hundred and Five-point-Six-One Billion Naira (N505.61 billion) over the initial Executive proposal. The increase, however, includes the Three Hundred and Sixty-Five Billion naira (N365 billion) provision for up scaling the Nigeria Social Investment Programme, which I requested for after laying the Budget before the Legislature.
The Details of the Budget as passed by the National Assembly, and signed into law by me, will be provided by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, subsequently.
In designing the 2021 Budget, we deliberately chose to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy. As you are all aware, our economy recently lapsed into its second recession in four years. I mentioned during the presentation of the 2021 appropriation Bill that we intend to use the Budget to accelerate our economic recovery process, promote social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy. All Ministers are to ensure that their supervised Ministries, Departments and agencies achieve the objectives set for their sectors.
I am aware of the changes that the National Assembly has made to the 2021 Executive Budget proposal. We will examine these amendments and, where necessary, I will revert to the National Assembly with a request for amendment, virement or other appropriate adjustments to ensure that the core objectives of the Budget are accomplished.
In spite of the adverse impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the nation’s economy and the Government’s revenues, we have made appreciable progress in the implementation of the 2020 Budget. As at December 2020, we had released about One-point-Seven-Four-Eight Trillion Naira (N1.748 trillion) out of a total of the One-Point-Nine-Six-Two Trillion Naira (N1.962 trillion) voted for the implementation of critical capital projects, representing a performance of about Eight-Nine-Point-One Percent (89.1%).
The overall performance of the 2020 Budget currently stands at an impressive rate of Ninety-Seven-point-Seven Percent (97.7%). This commendable outcome underscores the importance of our efforts, together with the Legislature, to return to the discipline of a January-to-December fiscal year. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will provide further details on the 2020 Budget’s performance, in due course.
To ensure full implementation of the 2020 Capital Budget and optimize its contribution to our economic revival efforts, the National Assembly recently approved our request to allow Ministries, Departments and Agencies to continue to expand released funds for their 2020 capital budgets till 31st March, 2021. I would like to express my appreciation to the National Assembly, again, for their gracious understanding and speedy action on this matter.
The 2021 Budget is very critical to the delivery of the legacy projects of our Administration. To fully achieve our objectives, the effective implementation of the 2021 Budget is imperative. Therefore, I have directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning should adopt all necessary measures in this regard to achieve the objectives of the Budget, including the targeted release of capital votes.
In view of the recent rise in confirmed Coronavirus cases nationwide, we will ensure timely implementation of the health and emergency measures in the 2021 Budget to contain the spread of the virus. We will continue to count on the close collaboration with the State Governments in our effort to protect the lives and livelihoods of our people.
During the year, I expect that we would be able to significantly reduce the adverse impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the cost and availability of basic food items, as well as other key commodities, in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders.
I also expect that the 2021 Budget will stimulate domestic economic activities and create employment opportunities, especially for our youth.
We are intensifying our domestic revenue mobilization efforts so that we can have adequate resources to fund the 2021 Budget. Revenue Generating Agencies, and indeed all Ministries, Departments and Government Owned Enterprises, must work very hard to achieve their revenue targets, control their cost-to-revenue ratios, as well as ensure prompt and full remittance of revenue collections.
Relevant Agencies are to ensure the realization of our crude oil production and export targets. Heads of defaulting Agencies are hereby warned that they will be severely sanctioned. I also appeal to our fellow citizens and the business community, at large, to fulfil their tax obligations promptly.
Being a deficit budget, the specific Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly. I count on the co-operation of the National Assembly for a quick consideration and approval of the Plan when submitted. I assure you that all borrowings will be judiciously applied towards growth-enhancing critical expenditures.
Considering recent budget implementation challenges, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is to take all necessary actions to ensure the effective implementation of the 2021 Budget. Ministries, Departments and Agencies are hereby directed to redouble efforts towards implementation of their programmes and projects in ways that promote the greater public good.
I am also directing all relevant agencies of Government to scale-up budget implementation monitoring and evaluation efforts. In this regard, we continue to count on the support of Civil Society Organisations and the general public, at large.
We acknowledge that Government, alone, cannot achieve the objectives of the 2021 Budget. This is why the Budget, and its underlying policy framework, provide a lot of opportunities for partnerships with the private sector. Ministries, Departments and Agencies are hereby directed to liaise with the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission to accelerate the implementation of their Public Private Partnership initiatives, especially those designed to fast-track the pace of our critical infrastructural development.
I wish to acknowledge the efforts of the Ministers superintending over the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; the Budget Office of the Federation; Senior Special Assistants that are liaisons to the Senate and House of Representatives; the Fiscal Policy Reforms Committee; and all others who contributed towards producing the 2021 Appropriation Act and 2020 Finance Act, that I have signed into law today.
As a nation, we are currently confronted with diverse challenges at this time. I commend the understanding, sacrifice and resilience of our people, both young and old. I assure everyone that our hope and confidence of a greater future shall not be in vain.
Let me conclude by commending the National Assembly, once again, for the steady support in safely steering our economy during these very challenging times. I remain committed to sustaining the partnership with the Legislature to jointly deliver on our mandate from our people.
I thank you most sincerely for your kind attention.
May God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.