2017 budget ready for submission to NASS —FG

EVEN with brickbats over proposals to borrow $30 billion from international sources to finance substantial parts of 2017, 2018 and 2019 budgets, the Federal Government disclosed on Thursday that it was ready with the 2017 budget.

This is as Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said the process of collating budget inputs from ministries, departments and agencies for the 2017 budget deviated markedly from previous experiences.

Speaking with reporters during the second presidential economic communications workshop, Ahmed said the executive was only waiting for the National Assembly to conclude work on 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

“We planned 2017 budget very carefully, so it wasn’t done in a rush like the last budget. We are also consulting with various stakeholders, including businesses, the civil societies and the National Assembly.

“We have a very high hope that the process we put up this time, by putting in place an IT system, thereby minimising the human interface in the budget process, will make 2017 budget a very high quality one.

“In past budgets, an MDA will prepare its budget and submit either by flash or by instructing another person to enter it in the system,” she said.

She explained that in order to avoid hitches of 2016 budget creeping in to next fiscal year, MDAs of government would have to submit their budgets to a designated web portal domiciled in Budget Office.

This time around, the minister noted that inputs from individual MDAs would not be submitted to her ministry in flash drives, but would be done though a designated budget web portal online, which the budget office would then review and return through the same channel after corrections had been effected.

“The new process was designed to limit human interface and ensure a better and quality 2017 budget,” she said.

Ahmed admitted that 2016 had been very challenging to the Federal Government in terms of revenue receipt and budget implementation.

“It’s been very challenging for us. Apart from the fact that we are in recession, we have some of our people facing humanitarian crisis in the North-East.

“The Niger Delta crisis has pruned down revenue from oil and gas. We have a lot of projects that we planned to do but the revenue yield is not as we projected in the budget. This is largely due to vandalism of major oil infrastructure in Niger Delta region,” she added.

On the status of 2016 budget implementation, the minister said “the budget was presented in December 2015, it was only approved in May 2016,” adding that the 2016 budget performance was reflective of the low revenue out-turns attributable to the global and domestic developments.