The Federal Government is yet to submit its 2019 budget estimates to the National Assembly, barely three weeks to the end of 2018, Daily Trust reports.
This has raised concern over government’s ability to implement a January-December budget circle as announced previously by various government officials.
The Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed had in an exclusive interview with Daily Trust in August said the federal government would be presenting the 2019 budget to the National Assembly in September.
Also in October, Presidency sources said the 2019 budget would be presented in November this year.
However, checks by Daily
Trust revealed that Ministry of Budget and National Planning has finished working on the budget but would be taken to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval.
Efforts to reach the DG Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma through his special assistant on media James Akpadem were not successful.
But a source at the ministry noted that once FEC approves the budget, it would be presented to the National Assembly before the year runs out.
“Normally the procedure is that once FEC approves it, the president will now write to the National Assembly to ask for date for submission,” he said.
“The sure thing is that budget will get to National Assembly before the end of the year” he added.
He also stated that since all members of the FEC already have a copy and studied it there wouldn’t be much to rectify. So when they go to FEC it’s just a matter of raising issues if there are,” the source added.
He however did not say whether the document would be tabled at today’s FEC meeting.
We’re on course – Presidency
The Presidency has said everything is on course on the presentation of this year’s budget.
Contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, said they were consulting with the appropriate officers of the legislature.
In a phone interview, Enang said they had agreed on the basic issues, regarding the presentation with the leadership of the National Assembly.
“We have agreed on basic things regarding the presentation and very, very soon it would be presented,” he said.
President Buhari had last month said that delays in passage of budgets by the National Assembly, sometimes lasting seven months, affected completion of projects across the country.
Speaking when he received a delegation of Eminent Citizens of Niger State, led by retired Lt Gen Garba Duba at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Buhari called for effort to speed up the process for the benefit of the economy.
“If the National Assembly takes seven months to pass a budget, then we should be commended for the much that we have achieved, and can still achieve.
“I personally feel very disappointed. I spoke with the leaders of the National Assembly on the issue that seven months is a long time to work on a budget,” he had said.
Similarly, The Senate had earlier called for early preparation and submission of the 2019 budget by the Federal Government to enable the National Assembly commence work on it without delay.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Special Duties, Senator Abdul’Aziz Murtala Nyako, made the call recently during an oversight function visit to the Special Duties Office (SDO), Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Federal Secretariat Complex Abuja.
N/Assembly to go on recess Dec 20
Members of the National Assembly are expected to proceed on their Christmas and New Year break on December 20, being the last Thursday before Christmas.
Thus, President Buhari has only 15 days to present the budget to the legislators.
For the past nine years (2010-2018), the earliest that the Executive arm has presented the annual budget proposal before the National Assembly was on October 10, 2012, when former president, Goodluck Jonathan, laid the 2013 proposal. It was signed into law on February 26, 2013.
However, three years before then, Jonathan had presented the 2010 budget proposal on December 2, 2009, which was signed into law on April 22, 2011.
The 2011 budget was presented on December 15, 2010 and signed on May 27, 2011.
Jonathan also presented the 2012 budget proposal to the National Assembly on December 13, 2011, and after its passage, he assented to it on April 13, 2012.
As for the 2014 budget, Jonathan presented it before the 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Reps on December 19, 2013. It was signed into law May 22, 2014.
That of 2015 was presented on December 17, 2014 and signed into law on May 19, 2015.
President Muhammadu Buhari during his first year in office presented the 2016 budget on December 22, 2015. After its passage, he assented to it on May 6, 2016.
The following year, which was 2016, the president laid before the lawmakers the 2017 budget on December 14 and signed it on June 12, 2017.
Last year, Buhari presented the 2018 budget proposal on November 7 and signed it into law on June 20. Thus, by delaying the 2019 budget presentation to this month, the administration appeared to have gone a bit backward.