Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
Immediate past Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said the January to December fiscal year could be achieved once the leadership of the National Assembly aligned with the executive arm if the government.
Udoma, who started the campaign for the return to the January to December budget cycle, had consistently blamed the inability to achieve the more strategic fiscal cycle on the frosty relationship between the two arms of government.
However, the former minister, in a press statement yesterday, expressed hope that the present administration would achieve the January to December budget cycle because of the cordial relationship between the National Assembly and the executive.
At his end-of-tenure interaction with the media in Abuja in May this year, Udoma had pointed out that achieving the goal would require a very close working relationship of trust and synergy between the two arms of government.
He regretted that the administration was unable to achieve it in the first four years because of the friction between the two arms of government; but predicted that “in Mr. President’s second term we might have a situation where the executive and the leadership of the National Assembly are much more aligned.”
He had stated that it would help not only to be able to achieve a return to the January to December fiscal year, but to have a much smoother budget process.
Udoma had advocated a return to the January to December fiscal year for the budget, describing the operation of the current budget which commenced in June or July as a very challenging assignment.
In order to achieve a return to a 1st of January commencement date, the former minister indicated that the budget must ideally be delivered to the National Assembly by September.
“But when you are operating a budget which commenced only in June or July, by September you would have had no idea how the existing budget is likely to perform.
“Indeed, given the procurement process, for a budget which starts running in June or July, there might have been little or no capital releases by September.
“The only way to return to a January to December fiscal year, under those circumstances, is to ensure an agreement between the Executive and the National Assembly to produce a budget on the basis of significant assumptions,” he told journalists then at the conference.
Udoma added that he’s delighted that the alignment between the 9th National Assembly (in its first budget outing) with the Executive was poised to return the country to the January to December fiscal year.