Wednesday, March 30, 2016 7:58 pm
Nigeria’s National Assembly might need two weeks to work out details of the 2016 record budget bill passed last week, a senior lawmaker said on Wednesday.
The budget has been delayed for months as President Muhammadu Buhari had to withdraw in January his $30 billion bill due to an unrealistic oil price assumption and flaws in the draft.
Last week lawmakers approved an amended bill but Buhari has not signed it yet as parliament has so far only sent highlights of the budget to his office, but no details, a government official said Tuesday. President Buhari said he would need to see the details before signing the N6trillion budget into law.
Abdulmuminu Jibrin, chairman of the House of Representatives’ budget committee, said lawmakers needed more time to make sure the draft this time contained no mistakes.
“In view of the inconsistencies, errors, omissions … that characterized the 2016 budget, it would be unpatriotic of the National Assembly to forward the budget details without being extra-careful, meticulous and cautious,” he told reporters.
“This is to ensure we do not make same mistake that the executive made.
“In any case, the budget details are usually sent within a week or two (to the president) after passing the budget,” he said.
He explained that since the budget was brought to the National Assembly (NASS) late, it was necessary the committee took its time to avoid any mistake.
“The general public should note that the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and 2016 budget proposal came to NASS very late.
“A lot of dusts were raised over different versions of the budget circulated in the National Assembly; again some ministers disowned the content of the budget during their defence”.
Jibrin added that amidst the inconsistencies and discrepancies associated with the budget, NASS had been deeply engrossed in perfecting the anomalies.
He further added that the NASS had also “ been ironing out the wrinkles and stretching the twists inherent in the 2016 Appropriation Bill.“
This, he said, was to ensure that the nation moved forward without stagnation of administrative processes.
Buhari hopes the bill calling for record spending will revive the economy but officials have left it open how it would be funded.
Officials previously suggested up to half of the estimated deficit of 3 trillion naira would be funded through the sale of Eurobonds or loans from China and international agencies. But no such deal has publicly emerged.
Oil revenues, which make up about 70 percent of Nigeria’s income, have slumped, hammering the currency, halting development projects and leaving budget funding uncertain.
In January, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun Nigeria said Nigeria planned to borrow up to $5 billion from multiple sources, including the Eurobond market, but officials have not provided an update since then.
Nigeria has held exploratory talks with the World Bank and tried to secure funding from the African Development Bank and China’s export bank, but without any apparent result.