The Executive has concluded plans to submit the 2018 budget to the National Assembly before the end of this month.
This disclosure was made by the minister of state for Budget and National Planning Hajia Zainab Mohammed at a press briefing to mark the end of the 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja on Thursday.
Hajia Mohammed said the prepared 2018 budget will be presented to President Muhammadu Buhari shortly for the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval before the budget is finally transmitted to the National Assembly.
“We are working closely with the legislature. We want to ensure the budget is passed in December so that it start to work from January 2018” she said.You
Zainab Mohammed who was silent on when the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) will be presented to the National Assembly said she was optimistic that the 2018 budget will passed in time to meet the January commencement of the fiscal year as planned.
The MTEF is supposed to be submitted to the legislature months before the budget but with the minister’s revelation that the budget will be submitted this month, it is unclear if the budgeting process will not be thrown into another controversy.
The MTEF is supposed to guide the legislators in passing the main budget and pointing them in the general direction of government’s fiscal activities for the coming three years.
Speaking on the power sector tariff crisis, Zainab Mohammed stated that “it is clear no new investor will come without tidying the issue tariff adjustment. They insist the current tariff is not sustainable but the new tariff will be a joint agreement with all stakeholders.”
The Federal Government she said: “will carry out another privatisation exercise for the power sector because what we sought to achieve by the previous privatisation has not been achieved. It has not worked well.”
According to her, “government is still a shareholder in the current arrangement and so we want to call all existing stakeholders to the table and agree on way forward. We will agree on the level of shareholding and other issues so that this power issue can be addressed once and for all.”
Power she said “is key to economic development and it is something the government is determined to ensure it works.”
On private sector players’ worry that government heavy local borrowing has crippled banks’ ability to lend to them, the Minister said “the government will reduce local borrowing for private sector to get adequate credit to operate.”
Regarding recommendations aggregated for the successful execution of the government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), she said: “We will review them and we have said the functional economic laboratories will be set up across the country in two weeks from now. We are not waiting for months. It is part of the recommendations.”An issue that generated a lot talk at the summit was the multitude of bills pending before the National Assembly which if passed will accelerate economic growth. Zainab Mohammed on her part said “there are pending bills and we always try to carry out economic impact on them. For instance, the Competition Bill has the capacity to create 381,000 jobs annually, generate revenue of N148.3 billion yearly. It will also lead to a 10 per cent reduction in price of goods.”
“For the National Transportation Commission Bill, it will also boost job creation and government revenue”.
Despite these positive outlook, the bills have been pending in both chambers of the National Assembly for years.
Source: The Nation