A Budget Expert, Tunji Ogunyemi, on Thursday said there should be no cause for alarm if the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is to present the 2014 budget to the National Assembly as the law does not stipulate that the President should carry out the task in person.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Ogunyemi explained that the president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, does not need to present the budget because section 80 to section 84 of the CFRN (Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) provides that “the president shall cause (the budget) to be prepared and laid.”
Hence, he need not personally lay them; “he can delegate the duty to the Minister of Finance,” Ogunyemi said, adding that “our Minister of Finance can perfectly lay the budget before the National Assembly. No law prevents her.”
Mr Ogunyemi also addressed issues which have besieged the presentation and approval of the 2014 budget. Such delays he said lead to “a frustrated capital budget” and “investors get very (very) wrong impression that the managers of the economy are not serious,” he added.
Also, “investors tend to believe that the government cannot be trusted on its fiscal plans.”
He disclosed that the Medium Time Expenditure Framework (MTEF) which the budget must be predicated has not been agreed upon by both the Senate and House of Representatives.
“It is yet to be agreed upon by the Senate and the House of Representatives,” he said and added that although the Senate has passed its version of the Framework, it is important for both Houses to pass and agree on the expenditure limit, revenue setting as well as the oil benchmark.
The MTEF is passed every three years and another version needs to be passed for the next three years.
The MTEF also provides that there must be a fiscal strategy paper detailing how much Nigeria expects to earn in the next three years and how much she expects to spend, so that the National Assembly can be guided on the revenue profile of the country and set an expenditure limit to tally with the revenue profile.