Why budget preparation, implementation must have constitutional timelines- Experts

Some economic experts on Friday advised the Federal Government to make timelines for budget approval and implementation constitutional to avoid uncertainties in the nation’s fiscal and macroeconomic space.

The experts gave the advice in separate interviews with journalists in Lagos against the backdrop of recurring delay in the budget processes.

Mazi Okechukwu Unegbu, a former President of Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), said that lack of implementation timelines and sanctions had resulted in lackluster performance in government offices.

He said that the delay in implementation of budgets over the years had given rise to corruption, economic dislocations, rise in unemployment and decaying infrastructure, among others.

According to him, a system of budgeting that is time sensitive is paramount to achieving the objectives of the budget.

“In addition, a sensitivity analysis of our budgets by engaging the services of economic experts who are practical with sound economic theories must be carried out.

“Budget approval and implementation is a recurring decimal in our economy and its implementation has been very haphazardly.

“There is no implementation timelines and no person in government takes responsibility because of the issues already discussed above.

“As there is no sanction for lackluster performance in government offices, the syndrome of whether I perform or not, nothing will happen to me as long as I get my salary is prevalent.

“We must in this country come up with a system of budgeting that is time sensitive if we are to achieve the objectives of the budget,’’ he said.

Dr Lukman Oyelami, a Lecturer, Economics Unit, Distance Learning Institute of University of Lagos, decried the manner in which the budget processes were being handled and said it had created serious uncertainty in the fiscal space and macroeconomic environment of the nation.

He suggested that the budget’s cycle be entrenched in the constitution and should be sacrosanct.

“With this, a more predictable fiscal behaviour on the part of our government would be created and an improvement in the macroeconomic environment for investment purposes would be recorded.

“There is a big problem with the way we carry out our budget approvals and implementation and this has created a serious tension in our fiscal space and macroeconomic environment in general.

“The current budget was submitted to National Assembly December last year and as we speak no meaningful progress has been made towards its approval.

“Judging by this, I am of the opinion that the budget cycle framework should be entrenched in the constitution and should be sacrosanct.

“With this, we can create a more predictable fiscal behaviour on the part of our government,’’ he said.

Oyelami also decried the structure of the budget, which he said, was designed to accommodate more recurrent expenditure to the detriment of the capital expenditure which has been empirically established to be growth enhancing.

“The structure of the budget is another major problem as the recurrent expenditure component of budget records higher implementation than the capital expenditure.

“Any shock in government revenue will reduce capital expenditure spending.

“Moving forward, the incoming administration should prune down recurrent expenditure spending and give more priority to capital expenditure in budget preparation and its implementation,’’ he said.

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