Nigeria May Lose Six Months Of 2017 Budget To Change Fiscal Calendar

Nigeria’s Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, has urged the Senate to approve a January to December fiscal year.

If approved, about five to six months of the current budget will be cut and rolled over to the 2018 budget.

While appearing before the Senate joint Committee on Finance and Appropriation on Tuesday, Mr. Udoma said the irregularities in the start and end date of budgets in recent years makes it difficult to report its performance.

The Senate last week invited the minister and his counterpart in the Ministry of Finance to explain why the capital component of the 2017 budget has not been adequately funded.

Mr. Udoma while responding to questions from senators said that the federal government between January and June 2017 released over N1.2 trillion for capital projects.

"There was a general belief that since January we have not released much in terms of capital budget. That is not the case. Between January and June, we still had the 2016 budget in operation and we allowed it to flow.

"Between these periods, we released over 1.2 trillion for capital projects. This is part of the reason why it is perceived that the 2017 budget is not well funded," he said.

He explained that the 2016 budget like others in recent years ended in May thereby making it difficult to give a report of the fiscal year.

"We should try to go back to the January to December fiscal year and the reason for that is that when you are reporting, it is easier. The current budget actually runs after June when the budget became law. Since then, we’ve released over N300 billion for capital projects. The current fiscal calendar (which runs into another year) brings a lot of confusion and that is why we find it hard to get the total from January to December under one budget."

Mr. Udoma explained that the ministry has started work on the 2018 budget to reflect the January to December fiscal calendar.

"We have been working to get the 2018 budget to you (Senate) this month. We intend to initiate the discussion with you in coming weeks so that we can resort to the January to December fiscal calendar which will make it much easier to report the performance of the budget.

"In order for us to go back to the January to December fiscal year, this particular year has to be very short. We should not expect the N2.1 trillion releases in 5 months. It is not possible. What we come up with is that about 50 to 60 percent of the budget should be rolled over to the 2018 budget.

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