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50th Anniversary: Jonathan Caves In To Pressure, Slashes Budget To N6.9B

Source: EMMA UCHE - thewillnigeria.com
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ABUJA, July 08, (THEWILL) - President Goodluck Jonathan has apparently caved-in to public pressure to rethink the allocation of the whopping N16 billion naira for the celebration of Nigeria's 50th independence anniversary as he slashed the budget to N6.9 billion. The directive was contained in a letter he sent to the National Assembly today.

He also asked the lawmakers for an addition of N200 billion naira in the already revised 2010 budget, which means that the President is demanding a slight increase to the amended budget from N4.208 billion naira to N4.224 billion naira. In that case, the recurrent expenditure was notched up to N3.496 trillion naira from N3.48 trillion naira, while statutory transfers were increased to N183.58 billion naira from N181.92 billion naira.

A breakdown of the reduction was contained in his letter to the National Assembly, in which he also submitted a revised revenue framework and request for the slight amendment to the 2010 budget and the 2010 appropriation budget proposal. In the amendment to the supplementary budget proposal, President Jonathan told the lawmakers that; "the allocations to some projects in eight (8) MDAs have been reviewed downwards, or completely dropped, in certain cases. These MDAs are completely dropped, in certain cases. These MDAs are the Secretary to the Government of the Federation; from N6.396 billion naira to N.324billion naira, the Ministry of Information and Communication now gets N1.720 billion naira, Ministry of Foreign Affairs gets N600 million naira, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation gets N820 million naira, Ministry of Women Affairs gets N105 million naira, Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory gets N97million naira, Aviation gets N2.250 billion naira, the National Planning Commission gets N135 million naira and National Assembly gets N100 million naira."

Nonetheless, President Jonathan explained that additional funds are required by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate the posting and movement of Ambassadors and diplomatic staff, which are crucial aspects of the Ministry's statutory responsibilities; and also additional funds he added are required by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to commence training programmes for non-militant Niger Delta youths.

However, he said recent information from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) indicates that oil production for the 2010 fiscal year is likely to average at about 2.2 million barrels per day, as opposed to the 2.25 million barrels per day assumption made in the last revision to the revenue framework.

"Accordingly, I seek your cooperation in revising the revenue framework to be based on assumptions for oil production of 2.2 million barrels per day and an oil price benchmark of US$60 per barrel. This revision will imply aggregate revenue for the Federal Government Budget of N2.392 trillion naira, and a deficit of about N1.829 trillion naira (or 5.6percent of GDP), based on the proposed amendment budget's level of expenditure."

Writing on the adjustment to the amendment budget proposal, the President said; "Regarding expenditure to be appropriated by the 2010 amendment budget proposal, I seek your cooperation to substitute the budgets of eight (8) MDAs with revised version.

"This substitution is as a result of reprioritization of capital projects by the State House, the Nigerian Air Force, the Intelligence Community, and the Ministries of Army, the Nigeria Aviation, Health, the Federal Capital Territory, and Foreign Affairs.

"There are also slight amendments to the Consolidated Revenue Fund charges as well as the automatic adjustment to statutory transfers based on the revised revenue framework", he said.