THE LEGISLATURE AND BUDGET PROCESS IN NIGERIACISLAC Admin
The Federal budget is an official statement a government makes about how much it expects to earn, spend and what taxes are necessary for the next year. It is essential for development. Budget process therefore refers to the procedure by which governments create and approve a budget. Budget process in Nigeria involves the budget planning, enactment, implementation and monitoring. This process revolves round the executive and the legislative arm in the democratic system. A constitutional legal framework for budget control by the legislature from the pre-appropriation to actual expenditure and finally the post-appropriation control guides the practice respectively. However, the existing legal framework is inadequate, hence the need for a comprehensive, over-ruling budget law to replace obsolete laws and Decrees. There is a general understanding that the method is constrained by unnecessary delays, incompetence resulting from capacity gaps from both the Legislative and Executive operators of the process, role conflict issues between the legislatures and Executives, outright corruption etc.
There are no well-articulated modalities to enable Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and other stakeholders participate in budget process. This is because the CSOs are not enabled or encouraged to communicate its needs and concerns to government as it prepares the budget despite the fact that they have some opportunities to attend budget readings and hearings during the legislative phase. However, there is currently no ideal scope or time for these role-players to make substantial contributions to the budget debate within the Legislature. Poor access to and quality of budget information further undermines the ability of CSOs and other stakeholders to research, monitor and comment on government budgeting.
Amongst factors responsible for the non-actualization of the legislative arm of government potentials in law making; oversight and constituency relations since the return of democratic rule are capacity gap at all levels of the government; lack of accountability and transparency and late submission of budget proposals by the executive to the national assembly. This can be traced to the prolonged years of military rule when the legislative arm of government was non-existent.
In a bid to enhance the capacity of the legislators since 1999, efforts were made to ensure significant numbers of legislators are returned back to the house with attendant legislative experience. This has however not achieved desired result and the gaps recur with low competency level in the budget process with each new session.
To strengthen and shorten the budgetary cycle, the legislative budget office of the National Assembly should be made more proactive and responsive; legislators should no longer camouflage under oversight functions to engage in corrupt practices. The roles of both the executive and legislatures on the so-called constituency projects should be clarified if necessary by the judiciary as this friction bridles corrupt tendencies. It is important to continuously build the capacity of the legislature in good budgeting, budget process/system, budget analysis and budget monitoring, tracking and evaluation. The establishment of a Legislative Budget Office is a positive development in this regard. For meaningful development, there is the immediate need to adjust the recurrent: capital ratio to the minimum acceptable level. The budget should be participatory enough to guarantee transparency and accountability.
Chapter 1 starts off with a report of the Capacity Building workshop. This was to prepare the ground for a solid partnership. The first training session was a review of the 2007 budget implementation. The Second training involved the revenue framework of the 2008 budget. The conclusion was that the 2008 budget proposal made provision for constituency projects to be in MDG related sectors.
During the third training session, a technical review of the 2008 Budget was conducted. The professor argued that the 2008 budget is structured to facilitate growing the economy fast enough to make Nigeria one of the twenty biggest economies in the world by 2012.
Chapter 2 involves the legal regulation of Budgeting in Nigeria. It scame to the conclusion that the regime of legal control of budgeting in Nigeria is in need of constant adjustments. This is with a view of harmonizing it with the practice in other jurisdictions where effective performance audit has been achieved.
The Third chapter was on the Legislative Budgeting and Appropriation: Issues and Challenges. It argues that the issue of budgeting as enumerated cannot just be left to the vague provisions in the 1999 constitution and concludesthat there has to be constant law making to guide the process in order to ensure economic growth and development.
Chapter 4 portrays the perspective of the Civil Society Organizations. It further conludes that the National Assembly has a great role to play in delivering a people centered budgeting regime for Nigeria and Nigerians. The chapter recommends that sound and effective oversight is necessary if Nigeria is to reap the benefit of the 2008 budget.
Chapter 6 conducts an analysis of the President’s 2008 budgetary proposal. It focuses on the underlying philosophy, 7-point agenda, the background to the analysis, recent budget trends, 2008 budget proposals, potential impact of the budget proposals on the Economy, challenges to the 2008 budget and suggestions.
Chapter 7 introduces the revenue framework of 2008 budget. This includes the challenges and issues from 2006-2007, derivation of the benchmark price, 2008-2020 medium term fiscal framework, the key assumptions, the medium term revenue framework, deficit financing and some key considerations.
Chapter 8 involves achieving the MDGs in Nigeria: Using Debt relief gains in the 2006 and 2007 budgets. It focuses on the MDGs in correlation with the budgets and concludes that the MDGs can and will only be achieved if all hands are on deck at all levels of government and in all constituencies in Nigeria.
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