Apparently worried by the economic costs of non signing of the 2017 Budget into law yet, the Federal Governrnt said it has begun the process of providing pre-data information on each year’s budget before the end of the third quarter of each fiscal year.
This is programmed to take effect as from 2018 when an economic model, capable of predicting information of all targeted revenue and expenditure, sectoraly, will be accessible to all stakeholders prior to the budget bill proper being laid before the National Assembly.
Disclosing this in Abuja on Tuesday to newsmen, the Director-General (DG), Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, confirmed that Nigeria has been experiencing undue delays in budget processing recently owing to many factors,including tussle between the executive and the legislative arms of government.
The innovation, he said, will also enable both the executive and the legislature have pre-knowledge of all inputs to the budget, including anticipated date that budgets could be signed into law.
For effective result, budgets’ signing should not exceed the first quarter of each financial year.
The DG maintained that the government was working on addressing the issue, adding that a legislation, which he called an “organic budget law,” was being considered by the National Assembly to address the impediments to quick budget passage.
He stated, “Between ourselves and the National Assembly, we have agreed that every serious country should have a predictable financial year to enable it know this is when the financial year begins and ends so that it ensures proper planning.”
“We are working collaboratively with the National Assembly with regard to that. However, Nigeria has never had what is called an organic budget law, which will incorporate a calendar that everyone is committed to.”
He said the new policy will specify the schedule and procedures by which the budget should be prepared, approved, executed, accounted for, and final accounts submitted for approval.
He further stated, “Basically, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that our financial year runs from the 1st of January till the 31st of December.
“The constitution also empowers the National Assembly to prescribe a different fiscal year; and so basically, it is the National Assembly that has the power to adjust the dates.”
He backed up his fact with instances of how improved budget processing could surpass early passage of budget bills as witnessed in the minimum delays in psssing the 2011 budget, on March 25, 2011 and that of 2012 on March 14 of that same year.
Also, the 2013 budget was passed by the lawmakers on December 20, 2012 and signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan in February 2013, while the 2014, 2015 and 2016 budgets were also signed in May of the respective years.
The 2017 budget is still being delayed within the presidency over some discrepancies allegedly discovered, which government said must be cleared before signing it into law.