OrderPaperToday – Outgoing Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma has provided hope that the country would return to a January- December fiscal year during the second tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Udoma who made the disclosure at an end of tenure news conference on Tuesday in Abuja stated that a January-December budget cycle is not mandatory but desirable because it makes economic planning and tracking of budget performance easier.

He regretted that over the last four years, it had been impossible to have a regular budget calendar due to the frosty relationship between the Executive and the leadership of the National assembly.

According to Udoma, “To return to the January to December fiscal year for a budget when the operation of the current budget only commenced in June or July is a very challenging assignment. In order to achieve a return to a 1st of January commencement date the budget must ideally be delivered to the National Assembly by September. But when you are operating a budget which commenced only in June, or July, by September you would have had no idea how the existing budget is likely to perform. Indeed, given the procurement process, for a budget which starts running in June or July, there might have been little or no capital releases by September.

“In short, the only way to return to a January to December fiscal year, under those circumstances, is for there to 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. 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.”

Earlier, the Minister remarked that Nigeria is unlikely to achieve the seven per cent target of the Economic and Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) by 2020.

“A GDP growth rate of 2.01 per cent is weak because we like Nigeria to be growing at 5 per cent, but the key thing is the direction of movement. I know Nigerians will like us to get to 7 per cent but it takes hard work, sustainability and focus to get there,” he said.

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