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 N700bn. 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.”