Senate: Buhari's 2016-2018 Economic Agenda is Empty - EazyFeeds

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Friday 4 November 2016

Senate: Buhari's 2016-2018 Economic Agenda is Empty

There seems to be no end to the altercation between the Senate and the Executive arm of government over the lat­ter’s fiscal and monetary policies.
Two days after the Senate re­jected President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for $29.9 billion loan, the Upper House on Thurs­day described the 2016-2018 Me­dium Term Expenditure Frame­work (MTEF), the President submitted to the National Assem­bly for consideration as empty.
The Upper House asked Bu­hari to blame his inability to deliv­er good governance to Nigerians on his incompetent ministers and not the legislature, stressing that the present National Assembly, particularly the Senate, had been performing its duties judiciously.

The Senate, which was an­gered by a media report credited to the Minister of Budget and Na­tional Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, observed that the MTEF document recently sub­mitted to it by President Buhari was empty as it contained nothing that could facilitate the approval of the lawmakers.
The minister was quoted in the report as saying that the Na­tional Assembly’s suspension of debate on the MTEF was re­sponsible for the delay by the Ex­ecutive in the presentation of the 2017 Appropriation Bill to the leg­islature.
The issue came up during the Senate plenary, when the Sen­ate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, raised a point of order, citing Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rule 2015 (as amend­ed), upon which he drew the at­tention of the Senate to the news­paper publication.
He expressed concern that the same minister, who failed to hon­our the invitation of the Senate to explain to the lawmakers the con­tent of the MTEF, could go about to castigate the Senate in the me­dia.
Ndume said: “A national dai­ly on Wednesday had a report with a heading: ‘Budget 2017 - Blame National Assembly for Failure to Meet October Target”, and in that, it said the minister stated that the suspension of the debate on MTEF and FSP, which lays the foundation for the budg­et, has stalled the ministry’s plan to have laid the 2017 Budget be­fore the National Assembly.
“We received the MTEF on 30th September instead of sub­mitting it according to law by 1st of September. That is not even the problem. I have a copy; I went through and the copies have been circulated. I talked to some experts. Even in this chamber, we have people we can call experts.
“If you look at this document that they call MTEF, it is empty; it doesn’t contain anything. If you have nothing, how do you consid­er nothing?
“Going through and knowing that it is empty, on October 19 – this is my letter – I wrote to the Minister of Budget and National Planning (brandishing the docu­ment to his colleagues).
“In the third paragraph, I stat­ed, ‘to enable the Senate objective­ly review the MTEF from a holis­tic fiscal perspective, we deem it necessary to invite you to a meet­ing to brief the leadership of the Senate on Tuesday, 1st November.’ But the minister failed to turn up.
“Before then, I said, ‘you are requested to please send the fol­lowing documents ahead of the meeting because that is what will make us to have something to consider’.
“I said, (A) medium term development plan, even the draft copy, upon which the 2017-2019 MTEF is founded. You know that is important.
Second, I requested that a comprehensive report on the im­plementation of the 2016 budget as at third quarter, that September 2016, be submitted.
“I also requested for all fiscal rates, taxes, charges, etc, used to derive the projected revenue be­cause we don’t know how they ar­rived at those figures there. Final­ly, I requested for a report on the structure, composition of the debt funding sources, how the bor­rowed funds are to be spent as well as repayment plan as a whole.
“As I said, my distinguished colleagues, till now, there is no communication with regards to that. Also, I have here a copy of the request for approval of the Federal Government 2016-2018 external borrowing plan which was thrown out by the Senate on Tuesday,” he said.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Senator Albert Akpan and others, pleaded with the Senate not to make trouble with the minister as he was also said to have denied the report, claiming that he was quoted out of context.
In his comment, the Senate President Bukola Saraki, told the Senate that he spoke with Udoma on the report and he denied ac­cusing the National Assembly, as well as assured that he would pub­lish his denial in the newspapers.

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