The parliament said the 2018 Finance Bill will make the executive to show clarity and consistency in its policies and financial projections for 2018
President Muhammadu Buhari had laid the Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly on November 7, 2017, with the hope that the lawmakers work and pass the budget before 2018 in a bid ensure regulate the budgetary calendar.
The hearing, jointly organised by the Senate and House of Representatives’ Committees on Appropriations, took place at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja, on Tuesday, March 27, 2018, and had the attendance of Federal Government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies, stakeholders, Non-governmental organisations and members of the public.
The public debate is expected to end tomorrow, Wednesday, March 28, 2018.
In his opening remarks, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki said the interactive session is intended to enable the parliament to consider fresh opinions, explore other dimensions and weigh new perspectives on the 2018 Federal Budget proposal.
He said the parliament had required that the 2018 Budget proposal be accompanied by a 2018 Finance Bill (which has so far not been received by the National Assembly) from the Executive arm.
He used the opportunity to emphasise the need for the Finance Bill and that the lawmakers want the government to show clarity and consistency in its policies and to see how these will square up to its financial projections for 2018.
"As you may be aware, in our interrogation of the 2018 Budget proposal, we have chosen to place more emphasis on getting our revenue projections right. The importance of setting realistic revenue targets, and achieving them, cannot be overemphasised – especially as revenue performance has tended to fall below targets in the past.
"Moreover, we are concerned about Government-Owned Enterprises whose operating surpluses have always been significantly lower than projections. Invariably, over the years, the performance of independent revenues has fallen short by at least 50 percent. While we work towards setting new performance standards for government corporations as well as developing stronger oversight frameworks to improve performance in independent revenues, we do expect more realistic projections of Corporations operating surpluses.
"It is also observable that non-oil revenue performances have been impacted by policy inconsistencies and leakages. Thus, in addition to our call for improved systems and processes to plug revenue leakages, we had required that the 2018 Budget proposal be accompanied by a 2018 Finance Bill (which has so far not been received by the National Assembly). Let me, therefore, use this opportunity to, once again, emphasise the need for the Finance Bill. We want the government to show clarity and consistency in its policies and to see how these will square up to its financial projections for 2018," his statement reads in part.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, had announced last week that the National Assembly will pass the 2018 budget on April 24, 2018.
Dogara in his speech during the budget hearing on Tuesday, March 27, 2018, said that the quality of a budget is not in its size or content but in its effective implementation. He implored stakeholders to demand strict accountability from all elected officials on budget processes.