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Crisis looms over 2017 budget •Summons budget minister

•As Senate suspends debate on MTEF/FSP

CRISIS appears to be looming over the presentation of the 2017 budget, as the Senate has suspended the debate on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) which lays the foundation for the budget.

The Senate was supposed to kick start the debate on the document last Tuesday, but the session was silent on the matter as the Senate and the House of Representatives only considered other unrelated matters.

By law, the National Assembly must pass the MTEF/FSP before the 2017 budget can be considered.

Even if the budget is submitted before the passage of MTEF, the document would be kept in abeyance until a resolution is made on the MTEF, which forms the foundation for the budget.

But it emerged on Sunday that the National Assembly had raised fundamental questions with the MTEF/FSP, which were considered incomplete.

The Senate, which has already summoned the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said in a letter by Senate leader, Senator Ali Ndume, that the MTEF, as submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari, was inadequate.

The letter, dated October 19, 2016 and signed by Ndume, indicated that the document submitted by the executive arm of government failed to provide holistic fiscal perspectives on the ways and manner in which the government wanted to pull Nigeria out of recession.

The letter indicated that after a preliminary review of the MTEF/FSP by the Senate, it came to a conclusion that the main thrust of the 2017-2019 MTEF was to reflate the economy out of recession, but added that the document failed to provide holistic data on how to achieve that.

The lawmakers, therefore, summoned the Minister of Budget and National Planning to a meeting with the leadership of the Senate on November 1 at 2.00 p.m.

Before the meeting, the Senate asked the minister to provide a Medium Term Development plan to show the funding pattern of the 2017-2019 MTEF; a comprehensive report of the implementation of the 2016 budget; a retailed account of fiscal rates, including taxes and charges upon which the 2017-2019 budget was based and a report on the structural composition of the nation’s debts and funding sources, as well as account of funds borrowed and the spending pattern.

Sources in the Senate said the minister was expected to forward the said documents to the Senate and House of Representatives before further consideration of the MTEF would be undertaken.

“The debate on MTEF and FSP cannot hold as far as the details expected from the Minister of Budget are not in place. The Senate planned to commence the debate last Tuesday, but it was put off because there is no detailed information from Budget Ministry.

“Following the letter from President Muhammadu Buhari, dated September 30, 2016, forwarding the 2017-2019 MTEF and FSP, the Senate has begun work on the consideration of the document.

“To enable the Senate objectively review the MTEF from a holistic fiscal perspective, we deem it necessary to invite you to a meeting to brief the leadership of the Senate on Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at the National Assembly by 2.00 p.m. You are requested to please, send the following documents ahead of the meeting:

“The Medium-Term Development Plan (even a draft copy) upon which the 2017-2019 MTEF is founded.

“A comprehensive report on the implementation of the 2016 budget (as at third quarter, September 30).

“All fiscal rates, charges, etc., used to derive the projected revenue in the 2017-2019 MTEF.

“A report on the structure/composition of the debt, funding sources, how the borrowed funds are to be spent as well as repayment plan and schedule,” the letter read.