The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Thursday approved the draft 2018 budget in a special session. The draft budget, which will now be sent to the National Assembly, sees a continued trend of annual increase as the Ministry of Budget and National Planning released a document showing that the budget is around N8.6 trillion naira ($27.3 billion), a 15.5% increase over this year’s budget.
“The federal executive council (cabinet) today approved a draft of the 2018 budget proposal… It is the prerogative of the president to give the details of the budget to the National Assembly, not me, so be patient until he presents the budget,” Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma told reporters as he explained why he could not give detailed breakdown of the draft 2018 budget.
The larger draft budget is hardly coming as a surprise as the Buhari administration has been trying to spend itself out an economic downturn caused by dipping oil prices and inconsistent production due to militancy in the oil producing Niger Delta area of the country. The increased spending is aimed at diversifying Nigeria’s oil dependent economy.
However, if previous budgets are anything to go by, the size of the budget does not usually interpret into real expenditure as the Federal Government has failed to meet its budget commitments in the last few years as it struggles to find external funds to fill large budget deficits.
On the bright side, however, the approved draft budget in October is a milestone for an administration that has usually waited until December before sending draft budgets to the National Assembly for approval. In fact, the FEC meeting, which usually holds on Wednesday, was postponed until Thursday for this reason.
“Before now we used to submit in December but now the budget is ready in October, so there is a very big difference,” said the budget minister said.