The senator representing Ekiti South senatorial district, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, has stressed the urgent need for the federal executive and legislative arms to avert late passage, signing and implementation of the federal budget.
Adeyeye, a former Minister of State for Works, canvassed collaboration between the two arms in budgeting processes, from the formulation stage to presentation before the National Assembly.
According to him, the relevant committees in the National Assembly should be co-opted into budget formulation process of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to allow the legislature make input at the formulation stage.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja on Saturday, the senator observed that late passage and signing of annual budgets has been responsible for poor performance of the nation’s economy over the years.
Adeyeye said, “I think we should have a system of budgeting in which the entire process, right from formulation, planning and approval by the National Assembly, is concluded by the first week of December. So that by January 2nd, the government can start its implementation on a full year scale. This will give room for rapid economic development.
“Right from the process of budget formulation and planning, the executive should involve the National Assembly all along. There should be collaboration and cohesion. I don’t see anything wrong in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, inviting the relevant committees of the legislature to meetings so that they could all brainstorm, even at the point of budget planning.
“If there would be collaboration at the early stage, the process of approval and confirmation by the National Assembly would be faster and a mere formality because nothing in the budget would be strange to the two parties”.
Decrying the yearly late passage and signing of the annual budget, Senator Adeyeye said the development has been responsible for the nation’s slow economic recovery and cases of abandoned projects in many parts of the country. Recall that 2019 federal budget was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on May 27, 2019.
“In the last four years, particularly in the Eighth Assembly, the national budgets were usually signed in the middle of the year, which in effect is a six-month loss in the fiscal year.
“I was once a Minister and I realised that late passage of budgets affects the operation of the executive, especially in the Ministry of Works where I served. All unspent funds of all ministries were returned to the treasury by the 31st of December each year.
“So, what do you expect a Ministry of Works to do when the national budget was approved in June and its implementation started in July? We are not likely to have spent 20 percent of the money appropriated to us.
“We are not likely to have started anything on the project we want to execute. This is because we probably start the process of awarding contracts around August and September. Before you know what’s happening, the Finance Ministry would be demanding for the return of unspent money to the treasury.
“We found ourselves in a situation whereby the budgets we plan every year are never executed. So, we ended up rolling over a project that should have been executed within a year, to a period of about three to four years”
Urging the executive arm, particularly the Budget Office to change its approach to the handling of the entire budgeting process, the senator flayed the unhealthy disagreement between the two arms over budget since 1999.
Adeyeye said it’s wrong for the executive arm to expect the National Assembly to pass budget proposals the same way it was submitted to the legislature, stressing that such practice is alien to democratic system of government.
He said, “I see no reason why the executive would take it upon itself to write the budget with the exclusion of the lawmakers. It is not possible for the National Assembly to rubber stamp it, so they will scrutinize it and accommodate projects that are of essence to the people they represent too.
“At that stage it affects the plans and programmes of the executive too. The nation’s budget has not been efficient in the last four years because the implementation is usually below 20 percent and this is not healthy for our economy.
“The executive and the legislature should start the budgeting process by April with meetings so that by July, both arms of government would have concluded the process of examination.
Then it should be submitted by September.
“Since the National Assembly would have been part of the process from inception, it won’t take them long to pass it; latest by December and the implementation would commence on January 2”.