2017 Budget : Experts advocate for better capacity for budgetary process

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By Ayobami Adedinni

The Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf has said in order to have a more effective and efficient budgetary process, there is need for better capacity development.

Speaking on the background of the late passage of the 2017 budget with our correspondent, he said both the executive and the legislative need to improve their capacity to be able to scrutinize the budget proposal and come up with quality outcome.

He said, “It is coming rather late. And when we continue to have a cycle of late budget, it’s not good for the economy. I wish the budget had been passed earlier. I feel we need to build better capacity for a more effective and efficient budgetary process. We need better capacity in preparing the budget i.e. the appropriation itself.

“We have seen instances where the budget comes to the National Assembly and the numbers don’t add up and we have seen instances where Ministers disowned the budget that was presented to the National Assembly which means there are some issues between the minister and the bureaucracy in the ministry. So, we need to tidy up capacity at the level of the Executive.

“We need to also scale up capacity in the legislature to be able to also scrutinize the budget proposal and come up with very quality outcome.

“When you look at the US congressional budget office, it’s a whole big non-partisan structure to service the US congress. It has a staff of over 200. They are permanently in the US congress and that is capacity. We need that kind of capacity to also support the legislative,” he stated.

According to him, there is a need to bring down the debt service figure adding that there should be a time frame for the budgetary process.

In his words, “Taking at the budget itself, we look at the high debt service, about N1.663 trillion which is a lot. Going forward, we should begin to look at what we can do to bring down the debt service figure. We should have a time frame for the budgetary process. Let’s have statutory timelines.

“When the budget should be presented, passed and assented to. Right now, the whole thing is so loose. We now have a clause that says budget implementation will start when the budget is signed. I don’t think that’s tidy enough for planning and confidence,” he added.

On his part, former president, Association of Stock broking Houses of Nigeria (ASHON), Emeka Madubuike said implementation of the budget is important adding that the sincerity of purpose of those charged with the responsibility will determine if it will be implemented or otherwise.

 In his words, “Although it is late in coming, it is better late than never. We are in the middle of May, which is five months down the road in a year. But I feel the critical thing is what do we do with the plan. Because budget is a plan like I keep saying. And so, is the plan going to be executed?

“Will this budget be implemented or not? That is the issue and which has always been our challenge in the country. It is not about the budget but whether it will be implemented. It doesn’t matter how bad a plan is, it is about sincerity of purpose.

“If people are sincere and want to ensure this thing is done, of course it will be done. That’s the challenge we have always had. Unfortunately, experience has not helped us. If we rely on experience, then there is not much to talk about,” he said.

Speaking further, he said people given responsibility should be held accountable for their deeds.

He said, “People should do the right thing. We have found ourselves in a situation where people are not held accountable for either what they have done or what they have failed to do.

“We need a culture where people will be told this is what you are supposed to do and when but you have failed to do it and so this is the reward you get which doesn’t happen in this country and so everyone does whatever they like. It’s unfortunate,” he added.

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