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Nigeria to return budget to January- December fiscal year – Minister

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr. Udoma Udo Udoma, says President Muhammadu Buhari will work to return the budget cycle to January – December fiscal year in his second term.Speaking at the end of tenure news conference on Tuesday in Abuja, Udoma said the Executive could not achieve that in its last four years in office.

“I am hopeful that in Mr. President’s second term, we might have a situation where the Executive and the leadership of the National Assembly are much more aligned.

“This will help not only to be able to achieve a return to the January to December fiscal year, but to have a much smoother budget process,” he said.

Udoma, however, said there was no legal requirement for the budget year to run from January to December.

He said a January to December fiscal year was more predictable and would help the private sector and other economic players in planning because most economic players run a January to December fiscal year.

“Also, it will be much easier to track the budget performance if both the recurrent and the capital budgets run from the same dates.

“It is therefore, desirable to return to the January to December fiscal year,” the minister said.

According to him, returning the budget to January/December fiscal year when the operation of the current budget only commenced in June or July is a very challenging assignment.

He said the budget should be delivered to the National Assembly by September in order to achieve a return to a 1st of January commencement date.

According to him, there should be agreement between the Executive and the National Assembly to produce a budget on the basis of significant assumptions.

“This will require a very close working relationship of trust and synergy between the two arms of government.

“Unfortunately, we were unable to achieve this in the last four years,” he said.

Meanwhile, Udoma said the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) resulted in the economy exiting recession in the second quarter of 2017 and returning subsequently to the path of growth.

He noted that most economic indices are showing positive momentum with the implementation of ERGP.

“The latest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) numbers just released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows a first quarter growth of 2.01 percent.

“This performance in the first quarter, 2019 is the strongest first quarter performance since 2015.

“Starting the year with a GDP growth rate of 2.01 percent is encouraging because the first quarter of the year often records the slowest growth in GDP.

“The first quarter 2019 result is also encouraging given the fact that this was an election period.

“As you are aware, both domestic as well as foreign investors tend to be a little cautious when elections are imminent, this cautious investor sentiment normally impacts negatively on growth,” he said.

He said the president had indicated that he intended to stay focused on the implementation of the ERGP so as to ensure that we could achieve the 3.0 percent growth target in 2019.

“It is my hope that the seeds we are currently laying will propel us to achieve our 7 percent GDP growth target in the course of Mr. President’s second term,” he said.

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