Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Presidency Thursday hinted that the presentation of the 2019 budget estimate to the National Assembly was being delayed due to some outstanding budget related bills before the Assembly.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, said in Abuja that the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper which are to form the basis for presenting the budget which were presented by the Executive to the National Assembly are yet to be approved by the legislature.
She said: “The president has transmitted to the National Assembly, the request for the approval of the MTEF and the approval of the Fiscal Strategy Paper. It is the MTEF that set out the budget parameters for the benchmark of oil, the exchange rate, the money projected to be realised from solid minerals, internal revenue from oil, and borrowings. It is this that enables you to deal with budget projections. That document is pending before the legislature,” she said.
Continuing, she said, “ordinarily we should present the budget but we just felt that the legislature should first pass the MTEF/FSP so that we can use it as benchmark, but since the legislature is still working on the document, we are going to use the parameters that were used in what we submitted as the budget benchmark of oil, exchange rate and other sources of revenue as submitted to prepare the budget.
Enang expressed optimism that the executive will work with the legislature when they eventually pass the MTEF/FSP, saying that was where they were on the budget, but that every necessary step has been taken by the executive for the presentation of the document.
Shedding more light on the 2019 budget, the SSA declared that “in presenting the 2019 budget, we would have to take account of the level of the implementation of the 2018 budget so that we would know what we are going to project for next year’s budget.
“If the money you seek to realise to fund this year’s budget came a little bit behind the time you expected, you are expected to take care of few of these things so that you know what to project for next year.
“When President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the 2018 budget, he had reservations but after having understanding with the legislature, he sent in amendments and asked for virement. That is still being awaited, it has not been done. He has also sent in request for certain other funds for other agencies from virement which is still pending. He sent in requests for loan for approval of external finances through euro bond and other windows. That has just been approved few weeks ago. They are in the process of raising money to fund the budget.”