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National Assembly defers 2018 budget approval till May

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Extends 2017 fiscal plan’s life cycle to May 31
The National Assembly has given up on its earlier plan to pass the 2018 budget in April. Instead, it has proposed a new date of May 2018.

Accordingly, the life cycle of the 2017 budget, which ought to end by March 31, 2018 has been extended to May 31, 2018.

This confirmed The Guardian’s January 7 exclusive story that the budget can’t be ready in the first quarter of 2018.

Lawmakers had confirmed that not only has the much-anticipated resetting of the budget’s life cycle from January to December failed, the 2018 budget may not be passed in the first quarter of the new year.

Citing serious cases of lack of co-ordination, the senators were frank about the fact that until a more pro-active approach was applied to budget planning, the nation’s budget woes would continue.

But at a public hearing jointly convened by the two chambers on the 2018 appropriation Bill,  it was pointed out that since it has become obvious that the budget could not be passed by March 31, the life of the 2017 budget must be extended to May 31.

Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations,  Dawaki Mustapha, who disclosed this yesterday, noted that the Accountant General of the Federation has already been put on notice about the extension of the budget till May 31.

“We are told that the office of the accountant general is expected to close the account as at March ending. So, we have written a letter yesterday, drawing his attention to the fact that the budget should be extended to May 31.’’

He said that contractors should continue working adding that budget account will not be closed until the budget is passed and assented to by the president until May 31, 2018.

At the hearing, Power, Works and Housing Minister,  Babatunde Fashola, disclosed that the Federal Government owes N109 billion to 138 contractors.

He also lamented that the procurement law has made businesses difficult for small business owners.

He suggested an immediate amendment to the law to remedy the situation.

Also yesterday, the Senate President,  Abubakar Bukola Saraki, expressed regrets that government’s revenue has been declining.

“We are concerned about government-owned enterprises whose operating surpluses have always been significantly lower than projections. Invariably, over the years, the performance of independent revenues has fallen short by at least 50 per cent. While we work towards setting new performance standards for government corporations as well as developing stronger oversight frameworks to improve performance in independent revenues, we do expect more realistic projections of Corporations operating surpluses.”


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