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NASS returns troubled MTEF to Presidency •$30bn loan request too

Troubles appear to be mounting ahead the presentation of the 2017 budget, as the National Assembly has finally returned the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) which is the prerequisite for the new budget.

Without the passage of the MTEF, the legislature will not entertain a new budget.

The lawmakers, especially in the Senate, had, on two different occasions, rejected the MTEF for being empty and incomplete, but the final decision was said to have been taken this week to return the document to the executive for fine-tuning.

It was also gathered that the National Assembly had also returned the request for $30 billion foreign loan to the executive.

The Senate rejected the loan request last week, following an overwhelming voice vote by the lawmakers.

Sources in the Senate told the Nigerian Tribune that the lawmakers had finally decided to return the documents to the executive.

Sources close to the workings of the Senate said, on Thursday, that the two chambers of the National Assembly had agreed to return the MTEF and the Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) which were the necessary prerequisites for the 2017 Budget.

By law, the National Assembly must approve the MTEF/FSP before it can deliberate on the new budget.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 makes it mandatory for the National Assembly to pass the MTEF/FSP into law before deliberating on a new budget.

It was also gathered that the National Assembly returned the documents based on obvious challenges noticed in the presentation.

A source in the National Assembly said: “Already the Senate has returned the Mid-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), the Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) and the request for $30 billion international loan to the executive arm of government. The refusal to provide necessary details and documentations is responsible for the decision.

It will be reecalled that the Senate specifically and openly complained about the lack of supporting documentation and details and the data of how the loan would be spent.

“There is no doubt that the delay in processing the MTEF will substantially affect the presentation of 2017 budget.”

“The National Assembly is hopeful that the controversy would be resolved soonest to pave the way for the consideration of the 2017 budget,” the source said.

Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, had, in a letter dated October 19, 2016, asked the Minister of Budget and National Planning to provide the lawmakers with details of the MTEF, without which the legislature would be unable to do justice to the document.

In a letter, dated October 19, 2016 and signed by Senator Ndume, the Senate leadership had indicated that the MTEF/FSP document submitted by the executive arm of government failed to provide holistic fiscal perspectives on the ways and manner in which the government wants 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 trust 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 2.00p.m. The meeting did not hold.

The letter mandated the minister to provide before the meeting  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 detailed 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.