Worries over non-report of 12-month budget implementation

 Ben Akabueze

Ben Akabueze

The lack of budget implementation reports in the last one year may have irked the civil society groups and other stakeholders, as they seek immediate action from the newly appointed Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze.

Besides, the activists said the development does not project the country’s image in the fiscal responsibility space as transparent and accountable, which is capable of affecting its sovereign rating and investor confidence.

Speaking on behalf of other activists, the Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere, said the report, which supposed to be on quarterly basis, was last seen in June 2015.

Already, CSJ has sent a position paper to the director-general, which it described as a reminder of three challenges facing the office and to let him know that the office is central to the success of the federal budgeting system, such that its practices need a good measuring of re-engineering.

Over the years, the budget estimates have hardly been prepared and presented on time by the President to the National Assembly to enable the lawmakers approve the budget before the beginning of the financial year.

The preparation and approval of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) has also always come late and in no small measure facilitated the late preparation and approval of the budget.

The lawyer-activist noted that by the provision of section 14 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), the MTEF is to be endorsed by the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCoF) before the end of the second quarter in readiness for presentation to NASS, adding that available information, showed the 2017-2019 MTEF is yet to received the endorsement of EXCoF, if it has been prepared at all.

“We are concerned that the last Budget Implementation Report available on the website of the BOF is the report for the second quarter of 2015. This is contrary to the explicit provisions of the FRA, which in section 30 mandates the Minister of Finance through the budget office to monitor, evaluate and report on the implementation of the annual budget and assess the attainment of fiscal targets.

“The report is to be sent to the Fiscal Responsibility Commission, Finance Committees of NASS and published in the mass and electronic media and on the website of the Ministry of Finance not later than 30 days after the end of each quarter.

“By the end of June 2016, it will be one full year without a Budget Implementation Report. The full 2015 financial year report is also not available. “This is retrogression as against the mandate of fiscal transparency required by section 48 of the FRA which states: ‘The Federal Government shall ensure that its financial and fiscal affairs are conducted in a transparent manner and accordingly ensure full and timely disclosure and wide publication of all transactions and decisions involving public revenues and expenditures and their implications for its finances.’”

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