THISDAY HEADLINE: 2018 Budget – No Security Vote for Presidency, Says Udoma

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The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, Thursday stated that there was no security vote for the presidency, debunking the report by Amnesty International (AI) titled: “Camouflaged Cash: How ‘Security Votes’ Fuel Corruption in Nigeria”, which indicated, in part that the presidency is not only appropriating, but “has increased the number of security votes tucked into the federal budget in the last two years”.

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Responding to questions during the 2018 budget briefing session in Abuja, the minister said it was necessary to state clearly that “there is no line item as Security Vote in the State House budget,” adding that “provisions for security-related matters are contained in the detailed budgets of the Ministry of Defence, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Department of State Security (DSS) etc.”

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He added: “There are also provisions for military interventions in the North-east (insurgency) – Operation Lafiya Dole, as well as other specific operations of the Armed Forces such as Operation Python Dance, Operation Crocodile Smile and very recently, the Operation Cat Race, etc.”

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Udoma pointed out that owing to the growing number of internal security issues, a provision of N75 billion was made for these exercises in the service-wide votes, not State House vote, in 2018, stressing: “At appropriate times, the required funds are disbursed by application from the relevant agencies supervising the exercises.”

In the report, the global anti-graft watchdog Amnesty International defined security votes as “budgeted funds provided to certain federal, state, and local government officials to spend at their discretion… They are budgeted separately from planned security expenditures such as personnel salaries, allowances, equipment, training and operational expenses”.

Giving a breakdown of the N9.12 trillion budget, the minister said that it is predicated on an oil production of 2.3 million per day (mbpd), benchmark oil price of $51 per barrel and an exchange rate of N305/$.

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It is also anchored on an inflation rate of N12.4 per cent, a 3.5 per cent real gross domestic product (GDP), as well as N107.96 trillion nominal GDP and N87.95 trillion nominal consumption.

The budget, Udoma noted, has a deficit of N1.95 trillion, N520 billion for statutory transfers, an oil revenue of N2.99 trillion and non-oil revenue of N4.18 trillion (N7.17 trillion).

The sum of N2.01 trillion is also provisioned for debt service, while N3.51 trillion is for recurrent expenditure, just as the capital expenditure component is N2.87 trillion, up from N2.36 trillion in 2017.

According to him, capital spending accounts for 31.5 per cent of total FGN expenditure in 2018.

He disclosed that the budget deficit is to be financed mainly by borrowing N1.643 trillion, putting the domestic component of the borrowing at N793 billion, while the foreign component accounts for N849 billion.