The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, on Friday shed light on some issues in the 2019 General Election Budget recently submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly for appropriation.
The minister, who appeared before Joint Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), confirmed the commission submitted a proposal of N189.2 billion for the conduct of the election.
He said the Executive decided to forward N143.5 billion to the lawmakers in the 2018 Supplementary Budget, while rolling over the remaining N45.7 billion to the 2019 Budget, in view of prevailing fiscal constraints.
In making these provisions, the minister said, the Executive was mindful of the size of the 2018 Budget, in view of the challenges it anticipated in implementing a N9.12 trillion budget during the year.
Consequently, Mr Udoma said, the Executive did not want an increase in the overall size of the 2018 budget so that it can properly fund important and critical expenditure items.
He said the decision was informed by the view that the N45.7 billion rolled over was not likely to be required by INEC until January 2019.
According to the minister, the amount proposed by the Executive was therefore to be taken from the additional N578.3billion appropriated in the 2018 Budget for new projects inserted by the National Assembly.
He explained that the reallocation of the fund did not affect the N100 billion specifically allocated for the legislators’ constituency projects in the 2018 Budget.
Despite his explanation, the joint legislative committee suggested that to be on the safe side, it might be necessary for the National Assembly to approve the entire N189.2 billion requested by INEC.
This, they argued, was because there was no certainty that the 2019 Budget would be passed before February 2019, in order not to affect election activities.
The elections are scheduled for next February.
The minister did not object to the committee’s suggestion to appropriate the entire amount requested by INEC, so long as it was taken from the additional N578.3 billion already in the 2018 Budget, with the total budget figure not exceeding the already approved N9.12 trillion.
There has been contention between the National Assembly and the Executive over the approval of the 2019 election budget.
Lawmakers have delayed approval of the proposed budget over alleged discrepancies in the figures submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari and what was submitted by INEC.