Saturday, January 5, 2019

Akabueze: We hoped that at worst budget would’ve been passed in January

Akabueze: We hoped that at worst budget would’ve been passed in January
April 14
23:49 2018

Ben Akabueze, director-general (DG) of budget office of the federation, says the national assembly should make progress on enactment of the “organic budget law” to counter delay in the passage of the 2018 appropriation bill.

Speaking on Saturday on the sidelines of “Exploit 2018,” a business empowerment platform organised by Salem International Christian Center (SICC), Lagos Akabueze said he and his team felt that at the “very worst” budget would have been passed in January

He said if the organic budget law is in place, it would make key players committed to getting the budget passed.

“Ultimately, we must get progress on enactment of the organic budget law. That law is pending in the national assembly,” he said.

“The national assembly was initially very enthusiastic about it. The organic budget law among other things should include a timetable for passing of the budget, which should bind every party involved to a definite date. Anybody who fails to follow it would make it clear that they have broken the law.

“We have sent a signal of commitment to better public finance management. We have stated that goal over time and everybody was quite excited and we thought the signalling effect would be quite significant.

“The bottom line is that we have not committed ourselves to this goal of getting the budget passed. If we commit ourselves to it, we will get it done no matter the obstacles… we hoped that at the very worst by January this budget would have been passed.”

He expressed disappointment that the January-to-December budget cycle could not be met even though “conscious efforts” were put in place to get it passed on schedule.

Akabueze said though the nation’s fiscal year could be changed based on a recommendation from the national assembly, government planning should synergise with that of the private sector.

He said: “For myself and my team it is particularly disappointing because we worked extremely hard to be able to get this done.

“The understanding was that if the budget was submitted to the national assembly in October, it would be passed in December. We worked very hard to make that possible. At the end, we ran into scheduling problems and it couldn’t be presented to the national assembly until November 7.

“Beyond just the signalling effect, sheer logic dictates that there should be predictability with the nation’s fiscal period. The constitution empowers the national assembly to prescribe another fiscal year. So if we feel that January to December no longer serves us, whether it’s April to March or May to April- whatever we pick- let’s all commit ourselves to try to make it work. That is how serious economies are managed.

“I personally find nothing wrong with January to December (budget cycle) especially as a larger majority of private sector organisations in Nigeria also run on a January to December cycle. That way, the correlation between public sector activities and private sector activities is reinforced if we are both working on the same planning horizon.”


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