2016 Budget: Absence Of MTEF Worries Senate

The Senate

The Senate

BARELY a month to the end of the ‎2015 fiscal year, concerns have started mounting in the Senate over the reality of passing a very late budget for year 2016, on account of the delay in the submission of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) to the National Assembly.

By law, the MTEF document was supposed to have been submitted for approval at the end of August 2015, in line with the four months to the end of the financial year requirement stipulated in the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

The ‎Senate Committee in charge of Appropriation just inaugurated by the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, last week, said the reality of having the 2016 budget passed late is already becoming inevitable.

When contacted, chairman of the committee, Danjuma Goje, said his committee would do a very thorough work in processing the budget proposal, no matter how late it takes the executive arm of government to submit it to the National Assembly.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 dictates in its Part II, Section (11)(1b): “The Federal Government shall, not later than four months before the commencement of the next financial year, cause to be prepared a Medium-Term Expenditure Framework for the next three financial years.”

Another member of the Appropriation committee, in lamenting the absence of the MTEF, provided explanations on the merits and objectives of the Framework.

“Common sense dictates that we cannot continue to do the same thing year in year out and expect a different result. The Minister of Finance is required by Section II of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 to prepare the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper for approval by the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly, ahead of the presentation of the budget for the following year.

These two documents provide the basis for the annual budget planning. They contain a macro-economic framework that indicates revenue and expenditure estimates. The documents also provide underlying assumptions for the projections, evaluation and analysis of the previous year’s budget and overview of consolidated debt and potential fiscal risk,” he said.

Equally disturbed about the development, Saraki had charged the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that had responsibilities to process the MTEF and budget to take their duties more seriously.

He announced plan by the Senate to impose a time frame for the submission of budget proposal to the National Assembly. He said the Senate is also considering imposing strict guidelines on budget processing and passage.

Finding appropriate measures for ensuring timely passage of the yearly budget is among motives for adopting a legislative agenda by the Senate, just last week.

The report of the Senator Ali Ndume-led committee that worked on the agenda proposes a comprehensive review of Nigeria’s budgeting and planning process, towards achieving efficient and results-oriented use of national income and resources.

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