President Muhammadu Buhari may present a N7.3 trillion 2017 budget proposal to the National Assembly on December 8, it was learnt yesterday.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved plans presented by Minister of Budget and Planning Udoma Udo-Udoma on Wednesday.
The N7.3 trillion estimate is 20 per cent higher than the N6.1 trillion 2016 budget.
The increased spending proposal signals the government’s determination to stimulate the recession-hit economy, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said would contract by 1.7 per cent at the end of this year.
In spite of the assurances by Senate President Bukola Saraki after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday that the budget would be promptly passed, Manji Cheto, senior vice president at Teneo Intelligence said “Nigerian lawmakers typically take up to four months to deliberate on budgets, even after granting their approval” to the three-year economic framework, which forms the foundation of every budget.
Saraki said unlike this year’s budget which was accompanied by a lot of acrimony, the 2017 budget would be passed quickly.
He said the President was expected to lay the proposal before the joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives for consideration “within the next 10 days”.
He told State House reporters that the National Assembly “is ready to receive the President as soon as communication is received from the Executive”.
He also said that the issues concerning the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) would soon be resolved.
He said: “We are ready. Once the document comes to us, we are ready. I think this time around, a lot of work has taken place behind the scene. There is a lot of more collaboration and you will see the result of that in the time frame it will take after the President will have presented it.
“I came for consultation with the President on a number of national issues. We are all getting towards the end of the year, getting the budget; just regular consultation.”
On MTEF, Saraki said: “That is still a work in progress. I am sure that very soon, that matter will be concluded. But I am very optimistic that this year’s budget will be passed much more sooner than what we saw in the past.”
Asked if he could give details about the budget, he said: “Well, I haven’t seen the details until the President lays it. I am sure within the next 10 days, it will be presented.”
He maintained that the defection of Ondo South Senator Yele Omogunwa from the PDP to the APC “is democracy at work”.
Saraki added that “the opposition party has its views about the defection of a senator to the APC. Normalcy has been restored to the Senate and we are one family again.”