Leke Baiyewu, Abuja
The Senate has said even though President Muhammadu Buhari will present the 2017 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly next Wednesday, it will not consider the bill until the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper it is currently working on is passed.
The President had notified the National Assembly of his intention to present the Appropriation Bill to the legislature on December 14, 2016.
Buhari’s letter to the Assembly was read by the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, during plenary at the Senate on Tuesday.
The President, in the letter titled: ‘2017 budget proposals and plans to lead Nigeria out of recession’, said he would also address a joint session of both chambers of the National Assembly on the efforts by his administration to bring the country out of recession.
The Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, while making clarifications on the possibility of presenting the budget proposals to the legislature when the MTEF/FSP had not been passed, stated that the lawmakers would not work on the bill until the framework had been approved.
He said, “What people don’t understand is that the approval of the MTEF is not a precondition for accepting the budget, but it is a precondition for passing the budget into law. I want you to understand the difference.
“What does the MTEF entail? It is giving us a graphic expectation of a country and of its income, either perceived, derived or accrued. Now, if the President presents the budget on Wednesday, which we hope will be presented, the Senate will now go ahead to approve the MTEF so that it will provide the foundation for us to examine what has been presented by the President on Wednesday as a budget of the nation for the 2017 year.”
Buhari had sent the MTEF/FSP, which will form the basis for the national annual budget for the three years, to the National Assembly for legislative approval, and had narrowly escaped being rejected for the second time by the Senate on November 23.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly condemned the projections in the document as unrealistic, even though it said the Presidency had set December 1 for the presentation of the 2017 Appropriation Bill to the legislature.
The senators, who took turns to criticise the new version of the MTEF/FSP as well as the officials who prepared the document during the day’s plenary, submitted that it should be sent back to the Executive to include the “correct” figures showing the true state of the economy.
The MTEF/FSP had earlier been rejected by the Senate over the failure by the Executive to include some critical details in the document.
The Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, had described the first version of the MTEF and FSP as “empty.” (Punchng.com)