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.”