Barely 24 hours after signing the 2017 Appropriation Bill into law, and as Nigerians wait ever so patiently for its dividends, preparation for the financial guiding document of the federal government for next year has started.
It has also announced that the breakdown of the much-awaited 2017 budget to show in actual terms what is on the plate of different sectors and sub-sectors will be done next Monday.
Tuesday, according to a statement by Akpandem James, Media Adviser to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, in Abuja flagged off preparatory activities for the 2018 Budget based on the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
Anchored by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, the process is to ensure that the 2018 Budget aligns with the provisions of the ERGP and is ready for presentation to the National Assembly by early October this year.
Both the Acting President and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who addressed Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and head of government agencies spoke of the need to reinvigorate the budget preparation process and ensure that the 2018 and subsequent national budgets are ready for implementation by January of the budget year.
The Acting President said “going forward, we have agreed with the National Assembly leadership on the necessity to get Nigeria back onto a predictable January to December fiscal year. To achieve this, the 2018 Budget needs to get to the National Assembly no later than early Octoberso that the National Assembly can conclude work on it before the end of the year.”
Prof. Osinbajo stressed the need for direct involvement of Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and heads of government agencies in the preparation of their respective establishments’ budgets.
“Ministers and Permanent Secretaries are to take responsibility to ensure that as much as possible of their 2017 Budget is implemented between now and December. They are also to be personally involved in the process for the preparation of the 2018 Budget to ensure that we meet the deadline of submitting it to the National Assembly by early October 2017”, he said
They must fast-track the implementation of the 2017 Budget to make up for the lost time and to deliver on expectations. It also means they have to work faster on procurement issues and effectively manage resources, which he said are very scarce.
He pointed out that Personnel Costs have continued to be a source of budgetary pressure and therefore tasked all MDAs to collaborate with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, as well as the Ministry of Finance, in their efforts to ensure that only legitimate employees are on the payroll, including full implementation of the IPPIS.
He also tasked the top government functionaries to pay serious attention to the revenue side of the budget as we need to improve on revenue generation for the funding of the budget.
Speaking in the same vein, Senator Udoma reminded the officials that the 2018 Personnel Budget Call Circular had been issued to them since April this year and that work has already commenced on the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework /Fiscal Strategy Paper(MTEF/FSP).
He said the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) 2007 prescribes certain deadlines for Budget related activities, which government must endeavour to comply with.
These objectives, he said, are particularly important for a government which has a change agenda. “Delayed national budgets are generally considered as indicative of poor public financial management which is not good for the image of the Government”, he pointed out.
The Minister noted that the 2018 budget will be the first full-year budget following the finalization of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and that it is imperative that it is fully aligned with the objectives/priorities of the ERGP. “The 2018 budget process is therefore being harmonized with the Implementation Roadmap for the ERGP”, he added.
The Tuesday session, he explained, was aimed at sensitizing all top government functionaries and other stakeholders on the ERGP Implementation Roadmap and the critical guidelines for the preparation of the 2018 Budget, to ensure that the 2018 budget is fully aligned with the ERGP.