December 19, 2015

Buhari ready with ‘budget of change’ – Presidency


By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- AHEAD of the presentation of 2016 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday, the Presidency said yesterday that the President was prepared to present to Nigerians, a budget of change.

Addressing Journalists yesterday in Abuja, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang explained that the 2016 budget would be a departure from the previous budgets, where the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) was presented to the National Assembly while the budget was being considered.

According to Enang, it was deliberate that President Buhari had planned to lay the 2016 budget estimates before the National Assembly after the apex Parliament had considered and approved the MTEF.

The Senate had passed the MTEF on Wednesday, December 16, 2015.

Enang who noted that the MTEF was the parameter upon which budget was determined, stressed that the document would act as a guide to developing implementable budget.

While appreciating the National Assembly for the expeditious passage of the 2016-2018 MTEF, the Presidential aide noted that the action of the lawmakers showed that they were determined to work in collaboration with President Buhari to bring the needed change to the country.

Enang said, “I appreciate the National Assembly on the expeditious passage of the MTEF and the Fiscal Strategy Paper because it was the basis for the preparation of the 2016 budget.

“Most of you have been here for a while and you agree with me that one or two years past we used to have a situation where the MTEF is considered and perhaps being considered while the budget is being presented but the present leadership of the Senate considered it appropriate to pass the MTEF and FSP before the budget is presented.

“You will agree with me that the Fiscal Responsibility Act says that it is the parameter set in the MTEF such as the oil benchmark, exchange rate, production quota, the non-oil revenue, sources of funding the budget, sources of other fiscal items; those are the items that determine what the executive will use to prepare the budget, and it is after these were considered and passed that His Excellency Mr President communicated the date, that the budget will be presented on Tuesday next week.

“A lot of people may have expected that this will be difficult to do, that is the way the legislators have responded to matters affecting Nigerians and Nigeria and communications and requests from Mr President; on this note that President has been very and highly appreciated.

“I am here again to extend my appreciation to His Excellency the President of the Senate, the Speaker, leadership and membership of the Senate and House of Representatives and indeed the management.

On the North-east Development Commission, the SSA said that the crisis in the region necessitated the demand for the establishment of the Commission, to cater for the socio-economic needs of the area, occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency, adding, “as at now, the bill is not from the executive. It is initiated by members and they have that right. I will not comment. Based on my previous experience during the militancy in the South-South, we initiated the NDDC to allow the people have peace and we stated it was necessary to set up that commission to coordinate activities to rehabilitate the area.

“The bill in both houses is almost the same and I believe that it may be necessary to have a body that coordinate funds from different donors for the rehabilitation and general development of the area.”