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Budgeting Process: Senate to hold round table discussion with the Executive

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Senate
Nigeria Senate

…Sets to have a Budget with a purpose

By Henry Umoru

THE Senate has resolved to organise a round table discussion with the Executive on how to review the Nation’s budgeting practices and National Planning process, with a view to coming up with a more synergized and collaborative system that will both effective and efficient.

According to the Senate, the discourse with Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government would allow for a holistic review of Nigeria’s Budgeting practice that would have a purpose, visionary as well as speak the vision and must at the end of the day be about the People.

READ ALSO: Buhari charges MDAs on early preparation of 2021 Budget

The Senate said that the Round table would produce the policy framework with contribution from all Stakeholders as there will be penalty for non compliance at the end of the day, adding that the Round table discussions would come up with a policy that will stand the test of time to be enforced by all budgetary officers.

Accordingly resolves:

The round table discussion would be handled by  the Senate Committees on Appropriations, National Planning and Finance, with the Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, All Progressives Congress, APC, Ekiti North led Senate Committee on National Planning to lead.

Resolution of the Senate yesterday was sequel to a motion titled “The need to establish a Budget-Driven National Planning Framework for Nigeria”, sponsored by Senator Stella Oduah, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Anambra North and co- sponsored by 5 Other Senators.

The Roundtable Conference is also expected to address  the failures and shortcomings of previous National Development Plans and to present a detailed report, appraising the current budget and national planning processes and to identify any extant Legislations and/or Regulations that are archaic, contrary to international best practices and would stand as an impediment to a more effective and efficient budgetary and National Planning framework, and take the necessary steps to effect amendments and/or repeal such Legislations and/or Regulations.

Presenting the motion, Senator Oduah who noted that the process is about having a proper setup of budget that would devoid of gaps and strictly about planning regardless of which party is in power, said that the “Senate is aware that in the last 20 years, Nigeria has developed several National Development Plans with a focus on strategically improving the socio-economic status of the country and the lives of every Nigerian. These plans and strategies include the Transformation Agenda, National and State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS I 8: II and SEEDS) and Nigeria Vision 20: 2020;

“Aware that these National Plans were aimed at socio-economic development, with a focus on wealth creation, employment generation, poverty reduction and value orientation and the Iong-term Vision 2020 statement was that “by 2020, Nigeria will be one of the 20 largest economies in the world, able to consolidate its leadership role in Africa and establish itself as a significant player in the global economic and political arena.”

According to her, the Senate “Notes that in certain aspects, Nigeria has improved in its global position. Nigeria ranked 27th in nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020 from 30″I in 2018 and improved 15 places in the global ease of doing business ranking, from 146 in 2018 to 131 in 2020. However, we are in the first quarter of the year 2020, yet it is evident that Nigeria’s Development Plans have fallen short of achieving the vision of becoming one of the top 20 largest economies in the world;

“Concerned that despite an incremental growth in the nation’s nominal GDP and gross national income (GNI) over the years, the average Nigerian has experienced little or no change to their socio-economic status. Some have even experienced a retrogressive impact on their lives in recent years. Nigeria has been dubbed ”the poverty capital of the world” with 47.7% of the population, with figures as high as 94,734,000 (ninety-four million, seven hundred and thirty-four thousand) as at November 2020. 1/3 of the nation’s children are never enrolled in school and Nigeria currently has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS related deaths in the world.”

Senator Oduah said that the Senate is further “convinced that there is an urgent need to identify and eliminate the obstacles that have posed a problem to the successful conceptualization and implementation of previous national development plans in Nigeria, ahead of the next generation of national plans;

 

“Observes that international practice in countries that have demonstrated significant success in implementing their national development plans, such as Ghana and Rwanda, formulated collaborative and evidence-based plans with clearly identified objectives and target areas at the conceptualization stage;

“Observes that under Ghana’s Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) 11, (2014-2017) for example: the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) is legally mandated to prepare legislaive instruments and prescribe the procedure and timelines to regulate the development planning process at all levels of government. In Rwanda, the Ministry of Finance and Planning were merged to form the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN) in 1997, in order to improve co-ordination between functions of finance and planning and to foster greater evidence-based national planning and performance based budgeting.”

She said that the Senate further “Observes that even in a more developed economy where national planning tends to be mate sector related, such as Norway and New Zealand, there is a clear recognition of the importance of budget and national plannin g coordination by the Ministry of Finance (or relevant Ministry, Department and or Agencies {MDA}) and that Parliament or Cabinet plays a vital role in institutionalizing such plans and in the implementation process;

“Disturbed  that despite Nigeria’s Articulated  national plans over the years, it continues to adopt  annual national budgets that do not reflect a buy-in from relevant stakeholders and MDAS, towards implementing and achieving the development goals set out in the national development strategies and plans;

“Further disturbed that the approval of budget submissions by MDAs to the National Assembty is not reflective of goal-oriented and performance-based allocations. For example, under the Appropriations Act, 2018 the total budget allocation to the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, a vital Ministry in national development, was #554 billion. This figure dropped by almost half to #331 billion in the 2020 budget. However, the 2020 proposed “Budget of sustaining growth and job creation, projects expenditure” has increased the combined allocation to the Ministry of Power and Ministry of Works and Housing to $420 billion. This roller-coaster allocation is a cause for concern as it calls into question; existing benchmarks for success, criteria for resource allocation and the accountability of MDAs to efficiently utilize their allocated resources to achieve the goals within their jurisdiction and minimize wasted resources;

“Understands that the Ministry  of Finance, Budget and National Planning as well as other relevant MDAS need to adopt , a national Planning and budget framework that promotes a buy-in from relevant stakeholders at the conception stage, to a harmonized Vision.

READ ALSO: Senate wants strict fiscal compliance for MDAs

“This collaborative and coordinated planning will ensure a national vision that enables MDAs identify relevant programmes and projects to be implemented within the budget framework period, While informing the budget hearing and d1 fence process during preparation of the annual budget.”

Senator Oduah further said that the Senate “Recognizes that without a visionary budget-driven national development plan, growth strategies and the respective MDAs will continue to fall short of achieving their goals, and projects will have little or no purpose. There will continue to be a high propensity for wasteful resource allocation and/or overlapping projects.

“Therefore, addressing these issues must be at the heart of the next generation of mild–term and long – term national development plans (for example Nigeria 2050) and subsequent budgeting cycles in Nigeria.”

Vanguard

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