.Jan-Dec Budget Cycle: History’ll be kind to Buhari – BMO
OBIORA IFOH and ADEKUNLE ADESUJI, Abuja
Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan has disclosed that the Senate’s standing committees will conclude scrutiny of 2019 budget by end of October.
Lawan who made this in his opening remarks when President Muhammadu Buhari budget presentation to joint sitting of National Assembly vowed to ensure cycle of budget from January to December.
He added that National Assembly will continue to review how revenue generation, collection and remittance would be more effective and efficient saying that there is need to review the laws establishing the agencies responsible with a view to enhancing their capacity and capability
He said, “Today marks another day of exercising the constitutional obligations and mandates by both the Legislature and the Executive as provided for in Section 81 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.
” This function being the first in the 9th session of the National Assembly, makes it even more significant as both the Legislature and the Executive have demonstrated readiness and commitment to work together in order to pass the 2020 Budget in a good and desirable time. Clearly, this effort is to enable the Federal government provide those laudable objectives of physical infrastructure and socio-economic services to our citizens.
“The public, as well as the private sectors need a reliable Budget cycle that is predictable, and reliable for planning and execution of their fiscal and financial policies and programmes. It is therefore, necessary that the present cycle is changed to a January-December cycle. In this regard, the National Assembly, and the Executive must work together to ensure the realization of this important objective.
“The National Assembly after the receipt of the Budget Estimates today will swing into swift action, to start work. Both Chambers of the National Assembly have constituted their Committees, we are therefore, ready to start processing the Budget estimates.
“The 9th National Assembly has shown capacity, commitment and willingness to treat legislative matters that will impact on the lives of our citizens with dispatch and every sense of urgency. This was clearly demonstrated last week, when we received, processed and passed the request of Mr. President on the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP).
“The National Assembly will treat the 2020 Budget Estimates with the same commitment or even more. In our effort to pass the Budget, we will also be guided by the legislative requirement of a thorough scrutiny.
“The National Assembly Committees are ready to receive the Honourable Ministers and other heads of government agencies for the defense of the Budget estimates of the various MDAs. In order for timely passage, all MDAs are expected to appear before the Committees for the defense of their Budget estimates within the month of October. We have earmarked the month of October to be the sole window for all Budget defense activities in this year, by all MDAs.
“In this regard, our Committees will be expected to conclude their work on Budget defense within October, this year. The subsequent necessary legislative work will be carried out in November and December, leading to eventual passage before the end of this year.
“Recently, the Senate passed its Legislative Agenda and the House of Representatives will pass its Legislative Agenda soon. Though the agendas are separately treated, the objectives and goals are the same. At the heart of our agendas are the Nigerian people. Mr President, both the Legislature and the Executive have the same agenda – a commitment to taking Nigeria to the Next Level of development.
“We all want to ensure that the Federal Government is better enabled to provide enhanced security for protection of lives and property of Nigerians, an improved and revitalised economy, that is all inclusive; able to create and sustain employment opportunities for our teeming youths; taking Nigerians out of poverty to prosperity and sustainable development. Mr. President, we are all on the same page.
“The Budget Estimates will remain what they are, estimates, until we are able to generate and receive the necessary revenues to fund and foot the bills. It is imperative therefore, that our revenue generating agencies be more alive to their responsibilities, more innovative and focused on how to meet their revenue targets.
“The National Assembly will continue to review how our revenue generation, collection and remittance would be more effective and efficient. We therefore need to review the laws establishing the agencies responsible with a view to enhancing their capacity and capability
“The implementation of the Budget is as important and vital as the passage of the Bill, probably even more. Our Committees will work assiduously to undertake oversight to ensure proper and timely execution of the programmes and projects of Government. We need to ensure prudence, economy and value for money in the delivery of services to our people.
“Over the years, our public procurement process appears to be encumbered by a lengthy bidding process and inadequate mobilsation of funds, amongst other limitations of the Public Procurement Act 2007, as amended. These tend to delay execution of Government programmes and projects, or even stalled achieving the execution at all. The National Assembly will fast- track the amendment of the Act, to ensure effective and efficient implementation of our Budgets.”
Meanwhile, the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has said that history will be kind to President Muhammadu Buhari for his bold step to re-calibrate Nigeria’s budget cycle by presenting the 2020 appropriation bill before a joint session of the National Assembly in October.
This, it said, will go a long way in ensuring that the country finally begins implementing its national budget from the first day of the fiscal year.
BMO said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke that the move is in line with the Buhari administration’s goal of leaving the country better than it met it.
“For far too long, Nigeria has had a budget cycle that runs contrary to what is obtainable in developed economies and other countries on a growth trajectory.
“And that is partly due to the fact that annual appropriation bills have almost always, since 1999, been presented to the National Assembly in December, with a May to June budget cycle the norm rather than the exception.
“But in line with his pledge to effect a quantum change in the polity, the President has now proved that what three predecessors failed to do; and did not even attempt, is doable by ensuring that the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) got to federal lawmakers in record time.
“He did not only dare to be different by sending the MTEF/FSP on time, but also in ensuring that the budgets of the country’s major government owned Enterprises (GOEs) are captured in the national budget estimates.
“So, for the first time since the return of democracy, Nigeria is on the verge of having a budget cycle that not only aligns with the business cycle of many financial institutions and other large corporations, but will also provide a leeway for robust planning in the economy.
BMO noted that by announcing that emphasis would be on completion of on-going projects rather than starting new ones, the President has shown his readiness to buck previous trend where annual budgets focused on new projects.
“Nigerians must have heard him also emphasizing government leveraging on private sector spending through tax credit schemes as well as ensuring a reduction in items that are considered as VATable.
“These, among others, show that this is indeed a budget on the philosophy of sustainable and inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity.”
The group hailed the leadership of the National Assembly for the convivial atmosphere that pervaded the legislative complex during the budget presentation.
It also called on Federal lawmakers to ensure that they pass the 2020 Appropriation Bill in good time to ensure that the Buhari administration’s goal of institutionalising the January to December budget cycle is realised.
BMO said: Nigerians were witnesses to the show-of-shame orchestrated by the immediate past leadership of the Federal Legislature that characterised the 2018 presentation.
“But with a more matured and civilised set of leaders at the helm of the National Assembly, it was not surprising that there was less drama, so much so that the President was able to present the budget estimates in an atmosphere devoid of rancour and bitter power-play.
“So what is now left is for the lawmakers to give speedy consideration to the Bill, similar to what they did with the MTEF/FSP, even though they increased the initial budget estimate of N10.002 trillion to 10.729trn.
“We recognise that both chambers did what the constitution expected from them, without acrimony and the Executive had no problem accepting the additional N700billion. This is the type of working relationship expected after 20 unbroken years of democracy and we hope that Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila will continue that trend now that the budget is with the National Assembly”.
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