During his budget speech on Tuesday, Pres. Buhari expressed hope that the national assembly would consider his budget estimates and pass it within the less than two months left in 2017. He decried the fact that the implementation of the 2017 budget has been constrained by its late passage.
“This year, we have worked very hard to achieve an earlier submission of the Medium-term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP), and the 2018 Appropriation Bill. Our efforts were to avail the National Assembly with sufficient time to perform its important duty of passing the Appropriation Bill into law, hopefully by the 1st of January, 2018,” he said.
VP Yemi Osinbajo said something similar on Monday when he spoke at the Legislative Economic Summit organized by the House of Representatives.
“No developing economy can afford the luxury of prolonged executive/legislative wrangling over the budget,” Osinbajo said. “Budgetary delay in a situation of national economic emergency, and the hardship encountered by so many, is simply wrong and unacceptable. Neither the executive nor the legislature can excuse itself. It is wrong for us to hold up the budget for that long. The delays of course, will ensure that money will not flow into the economy, and that capital projects will not be done.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, is however not convinced that a passage of the budget before January 1st is possible. During his closing remarks during the Budge 2018 presentation, he gave the following reasons:
- Inadequate consultations: “Let me place it on record that the 2018 Budget preparations suffer from inadequate consultations between the MDAS and various over- sighting Committees of the National Assembly. Consequently, one can only hope and pray that it does not lead to delay in consideration and passage of the Budget,” Dogara said.
- Adhering to the law: Speaker Dogara said the budget is supposed to run for 12 months in line with the provisions of S. 318 of the Constitution. Since the current budget was not passed till June, he said it had to be run for a full year. The alternative, in his view, is for the FG to redouble its efforts in “implementing the 2017 Budget, if we must retire it in January or at the very least roll over most of the projects in 2017 budget to 2018. No need to remind us that fiscal indiscipline is as grievous a problem as corruption which this Government is busy eliminating.”
- Unanswered Questions: Dogara said “what agitates us is the prospects of totally abandoning the 2017 Budget and the dire consequences of doing so. The questions that must be answered include whether we have effectively enforced 2017 fiscal targets and whether managers have complied with the budget as authorized by the legislature. Our experience with the implementation of the 2016 Budget amply demonstrates that obeying our Appropriation Laws maximizes the release of our potentials while violating the Appropriation Laws caps the release of our national potentials.”