This comes after a breakthrough appeared to have been made between the Presidency and the National Assembly over the budget. The two sides met on Tuesday night for some hours and deliberated on the controversial areas and resolved the thorny areas. The meeting, according to competent source, was to deliberate on grey areas that had forced the NASS to return the fiscal document to the executive and generated untold tension in the land over the weeks. Among those said to have attended the meeting, were ministers responsible for finance and national Planning, the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives as well as officials responsible for revenue generation.
Also in attendance were heads of Finance and Appropriate committees in the National Assembly and other officials of the budget office. A top source close to the meeting told Saturday Vanguard on Friday that it was ‘probably the last in the series’ to break the deadlock in the budget row even though it was the third to be held within the last one month. “We are confident that a solution had been found to the controversial issues in the budget document before the NASS. The truth of the matter is that the controversy arose because some people did not want to go with President Buhari’s Zero-budget having been used to the ‘envelop system”. “Despite all the furore over the budget, the truth remains that there is nothing wrong with it; the final figure is not affected despite what some persons tried to add to it.
“Hopefully, a common ground has now been found that would pave the way for the passage of the budget within the next two weeks so as to move the country forward,” the source said. Udoma while receiving a delegation from the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) expressed optimism that this year’s budget would bring about economic growth for Nigerians.
The Minister said the budget was structured according to the realities of the Nigerian economy; as the country could no longer continue to depend on only oil to fund its budget. Udoma said, “Our 2016 Budget is designed to have capital component of 30 per cent that will reflate our economy and provide Infrastructural growth for investors to leverage upon.”
Acknowledging the private sector as the engine room of development, Senator Udoma told the delegation that the present administration is fully committed to building an investment friendly environment for the organized private sector, which is part of why this year’s budget gave prominence to infrastructure development. He agreed that the private sector required sound and effective infrastructure to operate and assured that government was doing everything possible to ensure that the engine room of the economy runs smoothly.
This desire of government, he explained, was why it deliberately decided that this year’s budget must align with planning needs, pointing out that the structure of the budget is very good as it does not only address development needs but does not entirely depend on oil as its only source of funding. He assured that Government was fashioning out policies that would encourage export and domestic production in its determined effort to ensure that most of the things consumed in the country are produced in Nigeria.
Earlier, the national president of NACCIMA, Chief Bassey E. Edem had applauded the Zero-based budget system adopted by the Federal Government and particularly the diversification policy of the present administration. While stressing the need for a focused infrastructure development effort to better the state of roads, rail and electricity in the country, the NACCIMA president advised to give priority attention to agriculture and solid minerals development as these were capable of providing alternative sources of bulk income for the country.