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We’ll scrutinise MTEF, FSP before approval – Reps

The House of Representatives said it would commit the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) to necessary scrutiny before approval.

House of Representatives

Consequently, it said its committees on Finance, Appropriations and National Planning; Economic Development; Legislative Budget and Research and Aids, Loans and Debt Management would consider it and make recommendations.

The resolution was reached on Wednesday after some lawmakers demanded that due process be followed in scrutinising the 2018 Appropriation Bill.

Moving a motion on the issue, House Leader, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, reminded members that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday, forwarded a request to the House for approval of the 2018-2020 MTEF and FSP.

Citing Section 11 (2) of Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, he said “the MTEF shall be considered for approval with such modifications, if any, as the National Assembly finds appropriate by a resolution of each House of the National Assembly’’.

The leader also said Section 11(3) of the Act provided that the “MTEF shall contain among other things, a macro-economic framework setting out the macro-economic projections for the next three financial years.

“The underlying assumptions for those projections and an evaluation and analysis of the macro-economic projections for the preceding three financial years’’.

In her contribution, Rep. Betty Apiafi (Rivers-PDP) cited Order 8 of the House Rule and said that 2018 budget had already been laid before the National Assembly “so what is the essence of debating the MTEF and FSP documents.’’

The Deputy Speaker, Mr Yussuff Lasun, who presided at the plenary, said the House still had the capacity to debate the documents.

Lasun explained that “whatever changes we are going to make are still going to be in order”.

Rising for second time, Gbajabiamila cited Section 81(1) of the 1999 Constitution, which states that “the president can submit the proposed budget to the National Assembly at anytime’’.

According to him, though the Fiscal Responsibility Act states that MTEF and FSP documents should be brought three months before the laying of the proposed budget by the president, the Constitution supersedes other laws in the country.

Gbajabiamila, therefore, pleaded with the members to pass the motion to enable debate of the 2018 budget commence on Tuesday.

But Apiafi insisted that the reason for her argument was to prevent the House from being accused of “budget padding”.

Supporting Apiafi, Rep. Muazu Ismaila (Gombe-PDP) said it was better for the House to go by the sequence of the law.

On his part, Rep. Daniel Reyenieju (Delta-PDP) pleaded that the debate on MTEF be allowed in the interest of Nigeria’s progress.

“We shouldn’t have allowed the president to lay the budget when the MTEF has not been deliberated on the floor. We should allow the debate in the interest of Nigeria’s progress,” he said.

Mr Kayode Oladele (Ogun-APC) faulted the exchange rate of the MTEF, noting that the MTEF document was not different from the past.

On his part, Deputy Whip, Mr Pally Iriase, advised that oil benchmark should be looked into when the documents would be taken to joint committee.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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