Budget Reform Takes Front Burner As NILS Host Influencers

  • Wednesday January 17, 2018 12:15 PM
  • NILS Press Corps
Experts in the social media sector alongside members of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) focused on budgeting vis a vis national planning and development were on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 hosted to an interactive hangout by the National Institute for Legislative Studies, NILS. The forum provided the much needed platform for participants to share perspectives as well as gain better understanding of the proposed budget reform process being championed by NILS, following the recommendation of the technical committee on budget reform process in Nigeria, inaugurated by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki on 25th July, 2016, to among other things, review relevant laws and literature on budget reforms; develop a detailed strategy paper covering the challenges and opportunities in the budget process entailing preparation, enactment and implementation and to draft a budget reform bill.

During the event, the Director General, Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze sued for greater involvement of the public in budget conceptualization and priority. He stated that one of the reasons for poor budget performance is that most projects in the budget already appropriated for are not conceptualized alongside popular interest. He prescribed significant budget process improvement and new organic law that would stipulate a timeline to guide the budget cycle. Mr. Akabueze further elucidated on the stages of budget process to include, conceptualization, preparation, approval, legislation, execution, reporting and budget monitoring and evaluation.

He said there is need for proper monitoring of budget performance, adding that inspection alone is not equal to evaluation. He cleared the misconception that what the President lays before the National Assembly is not a national budget, but the budget of the federal government. “There is a difference between a national budget and budget of the federal government” he emphasized. The DG also explained that the presumption that the executive prepares the budget without consulting the National Assembly is not true. On this, he averred that there is always consultations with not just the National Assembly leadership, but with other critical stakeholders as well before the budget is prepared.

The Director General of NILS, Prof. Ladi Hamalai on her part added that it is paramount that Nigeria sets out a fixed time established by law for the passage of the budget in line with global best practice. She noted that a major challenge of the current budget process is systemic and suffers from lack of capacity sometimes.

A renowned economist, Prof. Mike Obadan of the University of Benin informs that the extent of the implementation of capital budget depends on availability of fund. Also, “budget amendment is a sore point in the relationship between the executive and the legislature; the law did not categorically specify to what extent the legislature can amend the Appropriation bill.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, while baring his views on the budget reform issue, commended NILS for the advocacy for budget reform.

He informed that padding cannot take place when the budget is still passing through legislative process.

While advocating for the establishing of a separate ministry for budget, he called for a sustained engagement on the issue and other matters of national development.