The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Umar El-Yakub, has said the decision of the Presidency to increase the budget despite drop in revenue was meant to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economy.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had on Friday signed the Appropriation (Repeal and Amendment) Act, 2020 into law.
The revised budget provides for aggregate expenditure of N10.81tn, which is an increase of N216bn over the level of expenditure initially proposed in the 2020 Appropriation Act.
El-Yakub, in an interview with State House correspondents, attributed the increase to the government’s decision to prioritise infrastructure projects that would reflate the economy.
He said, “One needs to understand that the essence of the review is to prioritise government projects that will address infrastructure and ginger the economy more as well as address health issues.
“Because of the pandemic, investments are made in those regards and certainly you know that there are palliatives that had been initiated by the Federal Government in the phases of implementation.
“All those necessitated a new look at the budget so as to free certain amounts of money hitherto appropriated for certain projects which in the circumstances are not as expedient to prioritise.
“We looked at other infrastructure that need prioritisation so as to address the pandemic and the difficulties that it has brought to the lives of Nigerians.”
El-Yakub lauded the cordial relationship currently existing between the executive and legislative arms of government, saying it was a relationship based on mutual understanding, respect and partnership in nation building. He faulted the belief that the current National Assembly had become a rubber stamp for the executive.
He said Nigerians voted members of the National Assembly to represent their interest and to work for their betterment as well as to make laws that would be for the good governance of the country.