Indications emerge Tuesday that proposals for the 2020 budget estimates may not be presented to the joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari next month as earlier expected.
This is as the Senate, after one-hour closed door session, announced that the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) documents are yet to be forwarded to it by the president.
The MTEF and FSP documents as stipulated in the relevant provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, are proposals that must be presented first to the lawmakers by the president for required approval of paraneters upon which the budget estimates are based.
Specifically, section 11of the Act clearly stated that “not later than four months before the commencement of the next financial year, cause to be prepared a Medium-Term Expenditure Framework”.
The same Act in its section 18 stipulated that “the MTEF shall be the basis for the preparation of the estimates of revenue and expenditure required to be prepared and laid before the National Assembly under section 81 (1) of the constitution.”
The Fiscal Responsibility Act placed so much importance on the MTEF document to the extent that it has spelt out the specific details of its contents and scope.
It states that “The Medium-Term Expenditure Framework shall contain a macro-economic framework setting out the macro-economic projections, for the next three financial years, the underlying assumptions for those projections and an evaluation and analysis of the macroeconomic projections for the preceding three financial years.”
Further, the Act equally stipulated that the MTEF be accompanied by a Fiscal Strategy Paper setting out the federal government’s medium-term, financial objectives; the policies of the federal government for the medium-term relating to taxation, recurrent (non-debt) expenditure, debt expenditure, capital expenditure, expenditure, borrowings and other liabilities, lending and investment;, as well as the strategic, economic, social and developmental priorities of the federal government for the next three financial years.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, had in anticipation of a prompt submission of the document promised last Friday that the first major work of the Senate upon resumption would be the consideration and approval of the MTEF.
He specifically declared then, that he was aware that the documents had been forwarded to the National Assembly by the executive.
But on Tuesday in plenary after the one hour executive session, Lawan made contrary pronouncement by saying “the Senate at the closed door session, resolved to await transmission of the MTEF/FSP documents from the executive to it and by extension, the House of Representatives”.