FG sets timetable for submission of 2017 budget

The Federal Government has said talks are ongoing with National Assembly to end the impasse and sign the 2016 budget to enable Presi­dent Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the bill.

This was as government also approved a timetable for the preparation of the 2017 budget to forestall delay cur­rently being experienced in getting the 2016 Appropria­tion Bill into law.

The proposal was one of the decisions taken by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by Pres­ident Buhari yesterday.

Addressing State House correspondents after the meeting in Abuja, the Min­ister of Budget and Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who did not disclose the timetable agreed upon said, “to make sure that 2017 budget is done on time, a timetable was ap­proved for the 2017 budget. I think the idea is to get it to the National Assembly on time so that they can pass it this year.”

For Nigerians that had hoped the budget would be signed into law, that hope was again dashed as Udoma said, “a decision has not been reached concerning the bud­get yet.”

The Minister said that FEC also discussed a mecha­nism to monitor the 2016 budget in anticipation of the President’s assent. Accord­ing to him, “on the expecta­tion that we will soon have a budget, the monitoring and evaluation mechanism to make sure that the budget delivers what it promises was put in place. That mechanism was looked at by the Federal Executive Council and ap­proved.”

He added: “In addition, Council noted the report of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), which in partnership with National Planning Commis­sion (NPC) organised an economic summit last year and made various recom­mendations, these recom­mendations were presented and noted.”

Udoma was joined at the briefing by his Power, Works and Housing counterpart, Babatunde Fashola; Minis­ter of Communication, Ade­bayo Shittu and Minister of State for Petroleum Resourc­es, Ibe Kachikwu, who all gave updates on the various memos from their Ministries deliberated upon by FEC.

Commenting on the sta­tus of the budget, which has been a subject of controversy following claims by gov­ernment that the National Assembly had substituted some key elements with other things, Udoma said, “government is still talking.”

In his remarks, Fashola who said he briefed Council on the current power situa­tion in the country and plans to solve the outages, pointed out that power generation has dropped from about 5,000mw to about 3,200mw because of gas supply prob­lems, which arose from the rupture of Forcados opera­tional platform.

He explained: “As a result of this, our power produc­tion has dropped from 5,000 megawatts to about 3,000, 3,200 megawatts depend­ing on other collateral prob­lems. What was not enough at 5,000 is even now much more difficult to share at 3,000.”