Lagos Nigeria May 31 – Nigeria’s presidency and lawmakers are still in talks over the record 7.44 trillion naira ($24.45 billion) budget for 2017, a government official said on Wednesday, nearly three weeks after the spending plans were passed by the Senate.
Meanwhile the Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, has said no date has yet been fixed for the signing of the 2017 budget by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
Enang, in an electronic mail to our correspondent on Wednesday, in Abuja, said consultations were still being held on the budget.
He stated, “Further to several enquiries regarding action on the 2017 Appropriation Bill by the Executive, be please informed that Assent to same is not yet scheduled as consultations and engagements are ongoing.”
Some online media had earlier on Wednesdayreported that Osinbajo would sign the 2017 appropriation bill into law on Thursday.
The reports quoted Enang as officially informing the leadership of the National Assembly on Wednesday of the imminent signing of the Appropriation Bill.
The budget aims to drag the OPEC member, which has Africa’s biggest economy, out of a recession that was brought on by low global oil prices that have slashed government revenues, weakened the naira currency and caused chronic dollar shortages.
Both chambers of parliament agreed to a bigger budget than the 7.298 trillion naira draft spending plan submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari in December.
The budget must be signed by the president to become law. Buhari is on medical leave in Britain for an unspecified ailment and has handed power to his deputy Yemi Osinbajo, who would sign the budget in Buhari’s absence.
“There are ongoing consultations between the executive and the legislature over the budget. Consultations have not been concluded,” said Ita Enang, senior special assistant to the president on Senate matters, without giving details.
The Senate passed the budget on May 11.
Last year’s budget, which was passed in May 2016, was delayed for months due to disagreements between lawmakers and the presidency over spending plans which cut the supply of government money and deepened the economic crisis.
Gross domestic product in Nigeria, which is in its second year of recession, shrank 0.52 percent year-on-year in the first quarter. (