21st May, 2014
By John Tosin Ajiboye
On December last year when the 2014 Appropriation bill was sent from Executive to the National Assembly for passage one would have expect the budget to have been implemented to some reasonable extent by now, but it is unfortunate that with almost half of the year gone, the budget has not been passed.
On 10 April, 2014, the National Assembly passed an appropriation bill of 4.695 trillion for the 2014 fiscal year on the estimated oil price of 77.5 per barrel while crude oil production was set at the rate of 2.3883 million barrels per day and transmitted it to the executive for assent. However, it was about 53 billion higher than the 4.642 Billion presented by the Executive.
Budget to a lay man can be defined as the money that is available to a person or an organization and a plan on how it will be spent over a period of time: either monthly or annually, therefore no serious government jokes or plays politics with the passage and the implementation of its nation’s budget since it is a summary or plan of intended revenues and expenditures of the government.
By now most of the developed nations and some goal oriented developing nations have implemented their budget to some reasonable extent but in Nigeria the budget has not been passed let alone being implemented.
According to Coordinating Minister of economy and the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, distortions in the 2014 appropriation bill, which is currently before the executive are responsible for the President’s delay in assenting to it because there is need to look into them because of the negative impact those distortions will have on the implementation of the budget.
It is a general fact that whenever two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers, the National Assembly which caused distortion by jacking up the appropriation bill by 53 billion naira and the executive that is trying to maintain the status quo on the amount sent are performing their constitutional duties but the two arms of government must let the national interest supersede their selfish interest.
If they are sincerely thinking of the masses I believe they should have resolved their differences on the subject matter, but since both of them have enough money in reserve they don’t give a damn about the masses that will be affected by the delay in the implementation of the budget. The projects that are being executed by the Works ministry, Aviation ministry and other ministries have suffered delay as a result of the budget that Mr. President has refused to assent to; no apology to the Boko Haram palaver that is taking most of his time, but the irony of the matter is that even the ministries of Defence and Police affairs still need their share in the budget to fight the current battle in the land.
I am therefore using this medium to call on both the Executive and Legislature that whatever discussion that is going on between the Ministry of Finance and National Assembly on the subject matter must be concluded this week so that the budget can be passed as soon as possible. If this is the first time this disagreement is coming between the two arms of government Nigerians would have taken them seriously thinking they are disagreeing to agree in the interest of the nation’s economy but it has now become recurring issue every year.
The end of the year is fast approaching when all the Ministries and different Parastatals will be asked to return the unspent money back to the federation account and we don’t want the situation where the Ministers will be conniving with the Permanent Secretaries and quack contractors to award impromptu contract so as not to refund the unspent money.
Nigerians want result not disagreements, therefore the differences between the Presidency and the National Assembly must be resolved urgently and amicably. The Executive and Legislature must therefore make sure that the budget is signed this month in the interest of the masses; they must both reach a compromise on the estimated oil price and let the budget be passed.
God bless Nigeria
•Ajiboye, a public affairs analyst, writes in from Lagos, Nigeria via [email protected] +2348138966292