President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday banned fresh recruitment by all Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, except by presidential approval.
He said this was to manage a rising personnel expenditure that was expected to increase to 12 per cent in 2018.
He disclosed that overhead cost would also rise by N26bn in 2018 or 12 per cent increase.
Buhari spoke when he presented the estimates of the 2018 budget to a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives in Abuja.
The President laid a budget size of N8.612tn before the legislature for 2018, an increase of N1.7tn from the N7.44tn appropriated in 2017.
Buhari, who wore sky-blue Hausa native attire and a matching cap, addressed lawmakers for 1hour and13minutes amid applause and intermittent murmurs by senators and members of the House.
The President said he had released up to N450bn out of the N2.2tn budgeted for 2017 capital projects as of the end of October.
He promised to raise the implementation of 2017 budget to “about 50 per cent” by the end of December, blaming the delayed in the release of funds partly on the “late passage of the 2017 budget.”
He said to check a bloating personnel cost, he had directed all MDAs to halt fresh recruitment, else they would face sanctions.
He said, “I have directed agencies not to embark on any fresh recruitment unless they have obtained all the requisite approvals. Any breach of this directive will be severely sanctioned.”
From the proposed N8.612tn for 2018, the President said recurrent costs would be N3.494tn, while N2.652tn was earmarked for capital expenditure.
He added that debt servicing would cost N2.014tn; and statutory transfers, N456bn.
The amount earmarked as Sinking Fund “to retire maturing bond to local contractors” was N220bn.
On statutory transfers, Buhari said, “N456.46bn is provided in the 2018 budget for statutory transfers. The five per cent increase over last year’s provision is mainly due to increases in transfer to Niger Delta Development Commission and the Universal Basic Education Commission, which are related directly to the size of oil revenue.”
The budget came with a deficit of N2.005tn, a drop from the N2.36tn contained in the 2017 budget, or “1.77 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.”
On how to fund the deficit, the President stated, “We plan to finance the deficit partly by new borrowings estimated at N1.699tn.
“Fifty per cent of this borrowing will be sourced externally, while the balance will be sourced domestically. The balance of the deficit of N306bn is to be financed from proceeds of privatisation of some non-oil assets by the Bureau of Public Enterprises.”
Other key assumptions of the budget are a crude oil benchmark of US$45 per barrel ($44 in 2017); and oil production estimate of 2.3 million barrels per day, including condensates (2.2mbpd in 2017).
The exchange rate of N305/US$ was planned for 2018, the same rate for 2017 budget.
The President also spoke on how his administration would tackle the country’s debt challenge, saying, “We are closely monitoring our debt service to revenue ratio. We shall address this ratio through our non-oil revenue-generation drive and restructuring of the existing debt portfolio.
“Presently, domestic debt accounts for about 79 per cent of the total debt. Our medium-term strategy is to reduce the proportion of our domestic debt to 60 per cent by the end of 2019 and increase external debt to 40 per cent.
“It is noteworthy that re-balancing our debt portfolio will enhance private sector access to domestic credit. In addition, annual debt service costs will reduce as external debts are serviced at lower rates and repaid over a longer period than domestic debt.”
Buhari gave a detailed analysis of the country’s overall revenue expectations in 2018 and the anticipated jump in the shares of the three tiers of government.
He said, “Based on the fiscal assumptions and parameters, total federally-collectible revenue is estimated at N11.983tn in 2018. Thus, the three tiers of government shall receive about 12 per cent more revenues in 2018 than the 2017 estimate. Of the amount, the sum of N6.387tn is expected to be realised from oil and gas sources.
“Total receipts from the non-oil sector are projected at N5.597tn.
“The Federal Government’s estimated total revenue is N6.607tn in 2018, which is about 30 per cent more than the 2017 target.
“As we pursue our goal of revenue diversification, non-oil revenues will become a larger share of total revenues. In 2018, we project oil revenues of N2.442tn and non-oil as well as other revenues of N4.165tn.
“Non-oil and other revenue sources of N4.165tn include share of Companies Income Tax of N794.7bn; share of Value Added Tax of N207.9bn; Customs & Excise receipts of N324.9bn; FGN independently-generated revenues of N847.9bn; Amnesty Income of N87.8bn; and various recoveries of N512.4bn, and N710bn as proceeds from the restructuring of government’s equity in Joint Ventures and other sundry incomes of N678.4bn.”
Buhari gave the indication that the government would recover more funds from treasury thieves, saying the whistle-blower policy would be exploited to recover looted money.
For sectoral allocations on recurrent expenditure, N510.87bn was budgeted for Ministry of Interior; N435.bn for Education; N422.43bn for Defence and N269.34bn for Health.
For the sectoral allocations on capital expenditure, Power/Works/Housing got N555.88bn; Transport got N263.10bn; Special Intervention Programmes, N150bn; Defence got N145.00bn; Agriculture and Rural Development, N118.98bn; Water Resources, N95.11bn; Industry, Trade and Investment, N82.92 bn; Interior: N63.26bn; Education N61.73bn; Universal Basic Education Commission, N109.06bn; Health, N71.11bn and Federal Capital Territory, N40.30bn.”
Others are Zonal Intervention Projects, N100bn; North-East Intervention Fund, N45.00bn; Niger Delta Ministry, N53.89bn; and Niger Delta Development Commission, N71.20bn.