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Delay in budget passage, official minus for FG’s ease of doing business drive—BHIU

Since the second quarter of 2017, the Federal Government of Nigeria kick-started a serial campaign it called ‘ease of doing business’ with seemingly marching policies and executive orders to convince both foreign and indigenous investors that doing business in Nigeria is no more business as usual.

The quest for the campaign stemmed from a publication of the World Bank which revealed that doing business in Nigeria is fraught with serial challenges that succeed in eating up invested funds or frustrating the investor  rather than building up Return on Investment (RoI).

Whereas the government since the beginning of the drive for ease of doing business in every sector of the economy has continued to express satisfaction on apparent results of the campaign, investigations by Business Hilights Intelligence Unit (BHIU), an independent research consultancy division of the media group, have shown serious drop in the campaign since the last quarter of 2017 till date.

Globally, deep pocket investors and even players in every sector of the economy base their yearly business plans and investment decisions on the dictates national budgets especially when the budget is signed into law at the very beginning of the year.

Analysts say with the late processing of the document which has entered into the second quarter, some strategic businesses that would have added serious values to the economy this year are already n danger of possible abandonment of haphazard execution.

Looking at the 2018 Appropriation Bill preparation, findings show that contrary to government regulatory provisions on developing a national budget which stipulate that every annual budget preparation should start from June at the Ministry of Finance, failed to start as provided in the first instance.

The observed failure came just less than two months after kicking off the campaign for ease of doing business by the same government.

The BHIU report also revealed that the executive arm of government missed the timing of the submission of the 2018 at the National Assembly, because the Ministry of Finance started the budget document preparation very late, an indication of failure on its side of the campaign for ease of doing business.

Otherwise, the lawmakers’ can only have a sizeable portion of the blame for delaying the budget in any year the executive presents the annual budget within the month of July and August as stipulated in the Ministry of Finance’s budgetary preparation procedure and this can only be possible if the Ministry do the needful in the month of June.

At the National Assembly, no doubt, the leadership has shown sportsmanship and seriousness to deliver the budget.

Though the lawmakers has given April 24, as tentative date for the budget passage, only last week, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at the plenary on Thursday, insisted on deadline issued to standing committees to represent their reports on the 2018 budgets proposed by the Federal Government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

He said the deadline would not be extended, noting that the Senate would not be held to ransom by the 20 sub-committees that had yet to present their reports to the Committee on Appropriations.

According to him, “My meeting with the Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations as of yesterday (Wednesday last week) showed that a number of committees have not submitted their reports. As much as possible, we have tried not to name names, but we have no alternative than to list these committees so that the chairmen can know that they are holding all of us back,” he stated.

According to him, the defaulting committees were Defence, Army, Air Force, Navy, Industry, Federal Capital Territory, States and Local Governments, Culture and Tourism, Petroleum (Downstream), Petroleum (Upstream), Niger Delta and Sustainable Development Goals.

Others are Primary Health and Communicable Diseases, Health, Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, Capital Market, Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, Works, Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy,; and National Cooperation and Integration.

He averred that “These 20 sub-committees must make sure that their reports are submitted by Friday. We have a deadline, which we are committed to, and you cannot hold us up any further. Submit unfailingly by Friday”.

Additional findings by BHIU showed that already, several businesses that would have added strong values to the economy if the budget had been passed earlier than now may not fly again this year.

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