President Muhammadu Buhari has presented a total budget of N6.08 trillion for 2016 to both the Senate and the House of Representatives in a joint session of the National Assembly earlier today.
President Buhari apologized to Nigerians for the pains currently faced following the continued fuel scarcity across the country. He maintained that the fuel pump price would remain at the rate of N87 per litre despite the oil glut.
The President blamed the fuel scarcity with long queues on market speculators and resistance to change by some stakeholders, he said, “the current fuel scarcity with long queues at petrol stations all over the country causing social dislocation is very unfortunate. Government profoundly apologizes to Nigerians for this prolonged hardship and misery. It is as a result of market speculators and resistance to change by some stakeholders. Government is working very hard to end these shortages and bring fuel to the pumps all over the country”.
The 2016 budget has 30% committed to capital expenditure. Capital Expenditure increased from N557 billion in 2015 to N1.8 trillion in the 2016 budget. The president added that having reviewed the trends in the global oil industry, the government decided to set a benchmark price of $38 per barrel and a production estimate of 2.2 million barrels per day for 2016.
Although the $38 benchmark may pose problems with budget as the oil price per barrel has presently dropped to $32, the president revealed plans to focus on non-oil revenues by broadening our tax base and improving the effectiveness of our revenue collecting agencies.
Buhari said, “the Budget was based on a benchmark oil price of $53 per barrel, oil production of 2.28 million barrels per day and an exchange rate of N190 to the US$. The projected revenue was N3.45 trillion, with an outlay of N4.49 trillion, implying a deficit of N1.04 trillion. Due largely to under-provisioning by the previous administration for fuel subsidy and the costs required to support the military operations in the North East, the Government had to obtain National Assembly’s approval for a supplementary budget of N575.5 billion. I take this opportunity to thank all members of the National Assembly for the prompt passage of that Bill”.
The President asserted that the budget represents a major step in delivering a new opportunity for Nigeria. According to him, the budget demonstrates confident optimism that despite the challenging times, the government had the will, resourcefulness and commitment to deliver prosperity to Nigerians.
President Buhari also noted that the government was aware of the harsh economic situation presently being faced by Nigerians; however he blamed the situation on unbridled corruption and security challenges of the former administration.
“We have demonstrated a strong will to fight corruption. I am sure you will agree that the sheer scale of corruption and impunity of the past explains in part, the economic challenges we now face. On these initiatives, and the many more to come, we shall not be deterred. We will pursue the recovery of everything that belongs to the people of Nigeria. No matter where it is hidden. No matter how long it will take.” He added.
By Kenneth Jukpor