Again Senate Rejects Buhari’s MTEF For 2017 to 2019

Senate has dismissed the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework & Fiscal Sustainability Paper sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari, describing the documents as “empty” and not worth considering.

Senate’s action is coming two days after it rejected the president’s plan to borrow $29.690 billion to execute projects across the country between 2016 and 2018.

It said the plan lacked detailed information.

It also came on the same day the Senate denounced presidential aides as being “incompetent”, saying they failed to present a comprehensive proposal on Mr. Buhari’s bid to borrow $30 billion.

Buhari had on October 4 sent the MTEF and FSP, ahead of the 2017 budget, to the Senate and the House of Representatives for consideration.

The Senate complained that the details of the fiscal proposals, which in Nigeria’s public finance architecture are the precursors to the annual budget, were not attached to the president’s letter requesting the consideration.

At plenary on Thursday, Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, raised a point of order drawing the attention of his colleagues to a newspaper report with a headline, which suggested that National Assembly was to blame for failure to meet the October target for the submission of the 2017 budget proposal.

He said the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, was quoted as saying in the publication that the suspension of debate of the MTEF/FSP had stalled the ministry’s plan to transmit the 2017 budget to the legislature.

Senator Ndume expressed displeasure that the executive arm had resorted to blaming the legislature over the avoidable delay.

He said, “As the Leader of this Senate and I am responsible for presenting communications, bills from the Executive. You will recall that we received the MTEF on 30th September. Instead of submitting it according to law not later than 1st of September, that is not even the problem.

“I went through and the copies have been circulated. I talked to some experts. Even in this chamber, we have people that you can call experts. If you look at this document that they call MTEF, it is empty. And it doesn’t contain anything. If you have nothing how do you consider nothing?”

Ndume said on October 19 he wrote Udoma and his Finance counterpart, Kemi Adeosun, seeking the details of the MTEF/FSP but that he was yet to get any response from the duo.

He said he invited both ministers to meet with the Senate on November 1 to review the MTEF from holistic perspective but that they failed to turn up.

He further stated that in the letter he requested that a comprehensive report on the implementation of the 2016 budget as of third quarter as well as the fiscal rates taxes and charges used to derive the projected revenue.

“Up till now, there is no communication to that,” the senate leader lamented.

He warned that the legislature could not afford to begin the 2017 budget process with blame game.