It was gathered that the National Assembly has proposed 15 key reform strategies that feature the adoption of a budget calendar, which will begin with the submission of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) by the second week in July. The timetable would end with the President signing the Appropriation Bill into law by the third week of December every year.
A statement by Saraki’s Media Office said that the measures contained in a report submitted to Senate President Bukola Saraki by the Ali Ndume-led technical committee on reforming the budget process in Nigeria, said the strategies, which also include provision of laws on development plans by the Federal Government, are aimed at easy and timely preparation of the budget and its efficient implementation.
The report to be discussed at plenary by the Senate also include amendments of the relevant sections of the Constitution and extant laws as well as enactment of new laws to improve the country’s budgetary process and align it to international best practices.
Other key recommendations in the report submitted last Thursday include the proposed provision of a legal backing for national development plans, and enactment of organic budget law to fix a realistic budget calendar.
According to the report, the broad strategies aimed at improving the budget process “revolve around reforming laws and frameworks for budget formulation, enactment, and implementation, aligning the budget process to international best practices, strengthening capacities, and institutions for budget formulation and implementation, and strengthening the revenue base for budget implementation.”
Some of the key reform strategies for budget preparation are to: Alter Section 81(1) of the 1999 Constitution and amend Sections 11 and 14 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) to provide for a fixed and realistic budget calendar by which the President will present the budget to the Assembly by the first week of September, considered and passed by 30th November and assented to by the President by the second week of December.
Provide legal backing for development plans to serve as basis for the annual budget and ensure continuity of development plans. In this regard, complete the legislative actions initiated for the enactment of laws: “Development Planning Act” and “Project Implementation and Continuity Act,” pending in the National Assembly; among other key recommendations.
The committee also urged the National Assembly to strengthen the capacity of its committees in the area of budget scrutiny and appraisal through helping members and the staff to undergo training and enlightenment programme on the economy and budget appraisal.
Institutions of the National Assembly like the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) and National Assembly Budget Office (NABRO) are also to be equipped to effectively assist committees with sound budget analysis.