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Supplementary budget for Tucano aircraft may worsen delay in passage of 2018 budget

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PHOTO: MEDIA.DEFENSE.GOV

• Reps Will Pass Appropriation Bill This Week – Azubogu
• Delay In Passage Stifles Economic Growth, Push Away Investors – Experts

There are strong indications that the N8.612 trillion 2018 budget christened “Budget of Consolidation’’ may suffer longer delay as the National Assembly (NASS) awaits further submissions from the executive regarding specific budgetary figures for security agencies.

Unending face-off between the executive and the legislature, late appearances of ministers and heads of agencies to defend their proposals, have contributed their quota to ensuring that the document presented to the NASS on November 7 last year, still lie prostate at the parliament.

President Muhammadu Buhari, last week hinted that apart from the $496m it released for the controversial Super Tucano aircraft, he would interact with heads of security agencies to get specifics on how much they require to combat insecurity and send same to the National Assembly.

Debates on the fresh budgetary allocations for security is expected to dominate sessions in both chambers of the NASS this month before any conclusions could be reached.

The Senate Committee on Appropriation, which had already been directed to conclude work and submit report on the 2018 budget bill, informed that it would bend backwards to accommodate whatever figures Buhari may send in for security agencies, adding that this would further delay passage of the budget.

A member of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, told The Guardian that there is no way the new budgetary request would not amount to another draw back for the approval of the 2018 budget.

“Look we have been complaining about the failure of many heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to turn up to defend their budgetary allocations, a development that has caused delay in passing the budget. Now that we have reached an advanced stage, the President says he is bringing another allocation for security agencies. The only implication of this is that the entire processing of the budget has to wait until the President brings those security allocations.”

According to him, “The President’s new request will however be subjected to all due processes of appropriation and if it survives, it will then be passed.  We will not bend any rule for it simply because his request has come late,” he insisted.

President Buhari in his letter, drew the attention of the NASS to what he called ongoing security emergencies in the country, hinting that the executive arm was preparing a comprehensive schedule of all the requirements for each of the security services for presentation to the National Assembly for consideration.

The President also requested the NASS to include the procurement of the 12 Super Tucano aircrafts to fight insecurity in the country in the 2018 Appropriation Bill.

He admitted that, “In the expectation that the National Assembly would have no objection to the purchase of this highly specialised aircrafts, which is critical to national security, I granted anticipatory approval for the release of US$469, 374, 470.00.”

Interestingly, the House of Representatives has, again reiterated its determination to ensure the passage of the 2018 budget this week.

The Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Emeka Azubogu, told The Guardian that his committee would lay the report on the bill before the House on Tuesday.

Alluding to the fact that this week’s deadline is not sacrosanct, he explained that his position was premised on the fact that his colleagues at the upper legislative chamber would have to subject it to scrutiny before endorsing it eventually.

The lawmaker, who represents Nnewi/Ekwusigo Federal Constituency of Anambra State, on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), declined to state whether the $496m aircrafts money has been captured in the budget.

Azubogu spoke just as the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, explained why the budget was not passed last week.

Blaming the “high volume of work” at the National Assembly for the delay, he assured that the laying of the budget before the House, and its eventual passage would not exceed this week.

Meanwhile, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Obadiah Mailafia, has warned that failure to pass the budget in time will dampen rational expectations by economic actors.

He also stated that such dampening would ultimately affect both local and international investments.

“Foreign investors in particular will stay action because of the uncertainties accompanying the budget process. Secondly, and deriving from the preceding, dampened expectations and lower investments will decrease the prospects for recovery and growth throughout the macro-economy, lowered growth prospects will also have a deleterious impact on poverty, employment and productivity, and the overall atmosphere will become one of gloom and doom.”

He explained that what these delays do is to create what economists term a “path dependence” that ensures that such delays become a way of life, and an acceptable norm in our economic management processes, stressing that such path dependence reinforces mediocrity… It is such things that condemn our country to the status of a Third World, backward economy. It is deeply regrettable.”

In his contribution, a Professor of Agricultural Economy and Head, Department of Environmental Education, University of Calabar, Cross River State, Ajayi C. Omoogun, said that Nigeria cannot run effectively without an approved appropriation bill that represents and captures most of the short-run of economic policies.

Ajayi stated that “a country that is desirous of becoming a global economic player cannot be taken serious if it has no approved economic blueprint, which is often captured in the budget, no genuine investor will be attracted by such economic abnormality.”


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