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President Muhammadu Buhari presenting his budget proposal for 2020 in the National Assembly on 8 October/Photo: Nigerian Presidency

Nigeria: President suspends foreign travels for ministers, other top officials

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has issued a directive temporarily barring all members of the cabinet and heads of government agencies from travelling abroad.

The new directive was announced Friday evening by Willie Bassey, the director of information in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

“Sequel to the presentation of the 2020 Appropriation Bill by Mr President to the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the immediate suspension of international travels by all Cabinet Members and Heads of Government Agencies so as to enable Honourable Ministers personally lead the process of Budget defence at the National Assembly,” the statement said.

“The suspension of such travels will enable functionaries and agencies of the Executive Arm to provide the required cooperation with the Legislature in order to ensure timely passage of the Appropriation Bill.”

Buhari had on Wednesday (8 October) presented his proposal for Nigeria’s 2020 budget to a joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja.

The aggregate expenditure he proposed for the Federal Government in the ‘Budget of Sustaining Growth and Job Creation’ is N10.33 trillion (about €26 billion).

The proposal shows that about a quarter of the sum (N2.45 trillion) will be used for debt servicing, while capital expenditure is expected to gulp N2.14 trillion.

Among other things, the 2020 budget proposes an increase in VAT rate from 5 percent to 7.5 percent

Shortly after the presentation of the budget, the Senate gave 31 October as the deadline for all government agencies to defend their budget estimates to enable the passage of the document in December.

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said Friday that the National Assembly would not allow Ministers or Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to frustrate it from passing the budget by December.

“One thing that we have collectively decided in the National Assembly, is to pass the budget 2020 before the end of the year,” Lawan, who is also the Chairman of the National Assembly, said.

Kola Tella

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