President Muhammadu Buhari will sign the 2018 Appropriation Act into law on Tuesday, Reuters quoted Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, to have disclosed this in London yesterday.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, had after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, stated that President Buhari would sign the budget next week. However, he did not give a specific date.
“The budget will be signed next week. We will give you the specific date when it is confirmed,” Adesina said, insisting that details would be provided later.
The Information Minister was however emphatic on the specific date. “We will sign it off on Tuesday,” Mohammed told the news wire on the sidelines of a visit to London.
Buhari had laid a 2018 budget proposal of N8.6 trillion but federal legislators increased it to N9.1 trillion, an additional N508 billion, which they explained was applied to critical sectors of the economy, including the reduction of the budget deficit, security, health and power, works and housing.
The increment had triggered fears that the executive might decline assent, replaying the altercation over the 2017 budget.
But the source said although the executive had reservations similar to those of last year, explaining that it was preferred that increase in revenue occasioned by the rising price of oil be used to reduce the deficit in the budget, the president was advised to sign it, to avoid further delays that might further injure the economy.
“Just like last year, the president was advised to assent to the bill and seek resolution of the grey areas later,” the source said.
Nigerians had expressed concerns over the delay in the passage of the money bill, warning that it could worsen the precarious state of the economy.
But the Information Minister, who disclosed the Tuesday date in London, said he expected the delay would have little effect on government projects.
“Even once a budget is passed, there are still processes, due diligence to be done … this takes time”, Reuters reported.
The president had last November laid the 2018 Appropriation Bill before a joint session of the National Assembly. However, it was not until May 16 (six months after), that the National Assembly passed the bill. It took the lawmakers another 10 days to transmit it to the president.