By Emman Ovuakporie and Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – AS the National Assembly waits endlessly to receive the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, for the preparation of the 2016 budget proposal from the presidency, a member of the House of Representatives Rep. Chike Okafor has said that the delay would affect the next year’s fiscal policy.
Rep Okafor who represents Ehime Mbano/Ihitte Uboma/Obowo Federal Constituency of Imo State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, said that the delay was an indication that the country was running into economic crisis.
The former Commissioner for Finance in Imo State explained that the MTEF guides the government on the income and expenditure and that the law stipulates that the National Assembly should receive the budget estimate about 90 days before the expiration of the current fiscal year.
Speaking exclusively to Vanguard in Abuja, the lawmaker while fielding questions on the Federal Government inability to present the MTEF to the National Assembly in less than six weeks to the end of the fiscal year and its consequence on the next year’s financial year, however, said that government could still do something before the end of the year.
According to him, “I was a commissioner for finance and I was in charge of budget for three and half years in my state (Imo) and I want to tell you that it is a problem.
“What the law says is that ninety days before the end of the fiscal year, we should have the medium term expenditure framework in place, we don’t have it, so what does it portend, we are already running into crisis with respect to the 2016 budget, that is just it, nothing can be further from the truth than this.
“The fact that we are already running into hitch, we don’t have the MTEF, we have not started the process of putting together the budget that will guide the income and expenditure of government for the next fiscal year and we have less than sixty days to the beginning of the new fiscal year, it is a problem.
“But I want to believe that the remaining days before the end of the year, a lot can be done. The budget is the appropriation, the budget sets the tone for the activities of government in the year, so if you don’t have it ready, you have not started the process.
“That tells you that we are already running into a hitch, that is the implication, that tells you we are in crisis.”