Senate, budget minister trade blames over 2017 budget

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma

The preparation of the 2017 budget suffered another setback at the Senate on Thursday, as the upper chamber of the National Assembly took a swipe at the executive for blaming lawmakers for the delay in the process.

The Senate specifically criticised the Minister for Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, for reportedly blaming the legislature for not making the executive meet the October target of sending the 2017 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.

Udoma was quoted by a national daily newspaper as saying that the lawmakers failed to give the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.

The minister reportedly said that the suspension of the debate on MTEF and FSP, which would be the foundation for the budget, had stalled the ministry’s plan to present the 2017 budget before the National Assembly.

Ndume however said, “We received the MTEF on 30th September instead of
submitting it according to law by 1st of September — not later than. That is not even the problem.

“If you look at this document that they call MTEF, it is empty and it doesn’t contain anything. I wrote a letter to the Minister of Budget and National Planning.

“In the third paragraph, I stated, ‘To enable the Senate objectively review the MTEF from a holistic fiscal perspective, we deem it necessary to invite you to a meeting to brief the leadership of the Senate on Tuesday, 1st November.’ But the minister failed to turn up.”

President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said he read the allegation against the National Assembly in the newspaper and contacted Udoma on the matter. He said the minister denied saying such.

Saraki said, “He denied the article and promised that he was going to make a statement to debunk it. He sent me an email saying that he never gave the interview.