By Naomi Sharang
Plans by the National Assembly to amend the 58-year old Fiscal Responsibility Act had reached its final stages with the submission of the report upon which the amendment would be predicated.
The report, which was presented to the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, by the Leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume, recommended that annual budget be presented in the first week of September.
The report, prepared by the Technical Committee on Budget Reforms, also recommended that the budget be considered within two months and passed on the Nov. 30 at the latest.
The senate president had constituted the budget committee to produce a Budget Reform strategy paper and draft Budget Reform Bill.
The aim of the reform is to improve budget formulation, enactment, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation with a view to improving budget performance.
Presenting the report, Ndume, who commended the senate president for initiating the process, said the report would improve on the inconsistencies inherent in the budgeting system.
He also expressed the need to repeal and re-enact the 1958 Act to check the anomalies in relation to the fiscal year.
Part of the report included enlarging the list of stakeholders to be consulted during the budget preparation process, as well as pre-budget consultation between the National Assembly, the executive and the public.
Also recommended by the committee are a fixed and realistic budget calendar and a pre-budget statement.
The report equally recommended the strengthening of legislative oversight function in order to minimise the negative perception of the public on oversight performance.
In his remark, Saraki said that the report would be useful in preparing and considering the 2017 budget.
He said that all the aspects of the act recommended for review were in dire need of renewal.
He pledged the commitment of the National Assembly to be more transparent in budget processes.
Also speaking, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, said that the success of any budget depended on the collaborations between the Executive and the Legislature.
He gave the assurance that elements of the proposed reforms would be immediately implemented.
He called for more collaboration between the Executive and the Legislature as the consideration of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework begins.
The Senate is now expected to sponsor a bill seeking to amend the Act in line with the recommendations in the report.