IT was penultimate week that President Muhammadu Buhari bared ministers, heads of government departments and agencies from foreign trip shortly after he presented the year 2020 N10.33 trillion budget proposal to a joint session of the National Assembly.
THE Director of Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey, had in a statement said, “Sequel to the presentation of the 2020 Appropriation Bill by Mr. President to the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the immediate suspension of international travels by all cabinet members and heads of government agencies so as to enable ministers personally lead the process of budget defence at the National Assembly”.
THE suspension of the foreign trip, according to him, “will enable functionaries and agencies of the Executive Arm to provide the required cooperation with the Legislature in order to ensure timely passage of the Appropriation Bill”.
IN the course of the presenting 2020 budget, the President had announced to Nigerians that the early presentation of the financial estimate to the National Assembly was to enable the country to return to the January-December budget cycle, which to us is a departure from the past.
APPARENTLY, the decision of the President which is coming at a crucial time of the nation’s polity, is a worthy and noble one, just as we want to commend him for insisting, this time around that our annual budgets, like the ones in other climes should start at the appropriate time to direct the nation on the path of seamless development and progress.
AND with the experience of hindsight, where budget matters in this country have continually been treated with levity, we want to lend our voice to the fact that the timing of the travel ban is impeccably apt, and a good omen to the nation’s economy.
TO us, the President’s directive is germane and is indicative of a lesson learned from the haphazard implementation of the nation’s yearly fiscal budget in the past, where budget cycles sometimes commence in the middle of the fiscal year, which has always had dare consequences on the nation’s quest for progress.
APART from ensuring discipline in the nation’s financial expenditure in the fiscal year, we are of the firm belief that if our budgets are operated and implemented with strike adherence to specified time frame; it will for sure attract investors who would want to bring in their money to invest in the country.
THEREFORE, we implore ministers and heads of government departments and agencies to heed to the directive of Mr. President by availing themselves throughout the duration of the budget defence, so that members of the legislative arm of government would do their own part to ensure that the 2020 Appropriation Bill is passed into law in no distant time.
WE suggest that states and local governments should take a cue from the Federal Government by ensuring that their annual budgets are presented and implemented in full cycle, starting from January-December in conformity with international best practice, so as to bring about the desired development that our people have always yearned for; anything short of this will continue to slow down the pace of the country’s desire for development.