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President will not sign budget this week - Minister

By The Citizen
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The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said President Goodluck Jonathan will not be able to sign the 2013 budget into law this week because there is still much work to be done on it.

The minister said this in a statement issued on Tuesday night by her Senior Special Assistant on Communications, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu.

She said talk that Jonathan would sign the budget this week was premature as the National Assembly was still fine-tuning the budget details with the President.

The National Assembly had on December 20, 2012 formally passed a budget of N4.987tn for 2013, raising the total figure by about N63bn. The original proposal by the President was N4.924tn.

In the original proposal, Jonathan had set aside N2.41tn for recurrent expenditure, but the lawmakers slashed it to N2.38tn.

Similarly, they raised capital vote to N1.62tn, up from Jonathan's N1.54tn, and also increased the crude oil benchmark price from the Executive proposal of $75 to $79 per barrel

But the statement said, 'The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has clarified that talk of the President signing the budget this week is premature.

'Whereas discussions between the Executive and the National Assembly are ongoing in a cordial atmosphere, it is not yet clear when they will be concluded as much work remains to be done.'