2017 Budget: Senate begins debate on Buhari’s 3-year plan today

*The Nigerian Senate.

*The Nigerian Senate.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

18 October 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Senate will today, Tuesday, commence a debate on the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) submitted for its approval by President Muhammadu Buhari preparatory to the submission of the 2017 Budget, in line with its resolve to prioritise all economic recovery-related Bills as a way out of the current recession.

A statement from the Media Office of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent yesterday, said the early consideration of both MTEF and FSP for debate by the Senate, was to fast-rack their approval so as to pave the way for the Executive arm of government to present the 2017 Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly.

Ahead of the commencement of debate, the Senate, barring any last-minute change of plan, is expected to hold its second interactive session with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on the nation’s budgeting system today.

Recall that both chambers of the National Assembly had on Tuesday, October 4, 2016, read a letter dated Friday, September 30, 2016, personally signed by President Buhari intimating them of the submission of the fiscal documents.

According to the details of the 2017-2019 MTEF and FSP, out of the N6.866 trillion proposed for the 2017 Budget, the government projects N1.765 trillion for capital expenditure while N2.563 trillion is for recurrent (non-debt expenditure) and N1.639 trillion for debt service.

The documents also indicated that the federal government has projected budget benchmark price of $42.5 per barrel and oil production volume of 2,200,000 per day, and an exchange rate of N290 to $1.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), 2007 makes statutory provisions requiring the Federal Government to prepare the MTEF and FSP – a three-year planning tool that defines government’s economic, social and development objectives and priorities, and also details the strategies to achieving them.

The Senate President had on Thursday last week said it would commence debate on MTEF and FSP in order to ensure that the planning tools were given expeditious consideration in line with the Senate’s economic revival agenda.

“The commencement of debate on the MTEF/FSP this week underscores the commitment of the Senate and signposts the desire of the Upper Chamber and by extension the National Assembly to ensure that all economic bills are conscientiously considered and passed as a way of boosting the economic revival policies and programmes of the present administration.

“The Senate believes that the quick consideration and approval of the MTEF/FSP to pave way for the laying of the 2017 budget would enable the National Assembly to consider the 2017 money bill and pass it so that the budget cycle can commence normally next year.

“The implementation of the 2017 budget can start in earnest in January if the budget is laid on schedule, considered and passed by the National Assembly. Therefore, the Senate has decided to give attention to the MTEF/FSP so as to correct some of the delays of the past which often impacted negatively on the full implementation of the budget,” the statement said.

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