|President Buhari and VP Yemi Osibajo at Federal Executive Council Meeting.|
Briefing State House correspondents after Wednesday’s council meeting, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma said that the budget details would be revealed when the president presents the bill to the National Assembly, even as he was silent on the date for its submission.
“With regard to the date, the president will be communicating to the National Assembly and, of course, it will be at the National Assembly’s discretion ultimately.
“The president will write to them and after they confirm, then the president can come to address them,” he said.
Speaking on the implementation of this year’s budget, the Minister said that even though it had been affected by revenue constraints, the government was able to release N800 billion for capital projects and had also met 100 per cent of personnel costs.
“With respect to the implementation of 2016, as you are aware, we had revenue constraints. Nevertheless, as we have been briefing regularly, we are up to date with personnel costs. We have paid salaries up to date,” he stated.
The Senate had faulted the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, and Fiscal Strategy Paper, FSP, sent to the National Assembly on October 4, 2016, alleging that it did not contain the details of the fiscal proposals and described it as “empty” and not worth consideration.
But Udoma disagreed with the Senate, stating that the document sent to the National Assembly ahead of the presentation of the 2017 budget was not bereft of information, insisting that it was well prepared.
He stated that the MTEF was prepared by experienced experts after extensive consultations, even as he admitted that the estimates contained in the document at the time it was submitted, were bound to change because of the changes in the exchange rate.
According to him, “The MTEF was a very well prepared document after extensive consultations. We consulted the private sector and the non-governmental organisations (NGOs), etc.
“But the assumptions of that MTEF were assumptions which were true and correct as of the time it was prepared in August.
“Naturally, every time you improve on your assumptions based on the latest estimates. For instance, one of the issues they raised was about the exchange rate; that we used $290 as the exchange rate, and that was the exchange rate of the time.
“So, you only use the exchange rate that is valid at that time. Naturally, by now, you will change that.
“As such, whenever we appear before the National Assembly, we will engage them and take them one by one through each item.
“But that MTEF was extremely well prepared, consistent with the best possible methods of preparation by people who are very experienced in preparing the document.” (Daily Post)