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Fec Approves 2017 Budget, Defends Mtef

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BEVERY HILL, November 30, (THEWILL) – The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the 2017 Appropriation Bill and defended the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) sent to the National Assembly ahead of the presentation of the 2017 budget.

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who briefed State House correspondents after Wednesday's FEC meeting, revealed that the details of the budget as approved by FEC would be revealed when the President Muhhamadu Buhari sends the bill to the National Assembly.

On the MTEF, which the Senate had picked rejected describing as empty and not worth consideration alleging that it did not contain the details of the fiscal proposals, Udoma disagreed with the Senate, saying that the MTEF was prepared by experienced experts after extensive consultations.

He insisted that it was not bereft of information saying that it was well prepared but admitted that the estimates contained in the document at the time it was submitted, were bound to change because of the changes in the exchange rate.

On the implementation of the 2016 budget, he said that even though it had been affected by revenue constraints, the government was able to release N800 billion for capital projects and had also met 100 per cent of personnel costs.

“With regard to the date of the presentation of the 2017 budget, the President will be communicating to the National Assembly and, of course, it will be at the National Assembly's discretion ultimately,” he said.

“The president will write to them and after they confirm, then the president can come to address them.

“With respect to implementation of 2016, as you are aware, we had revenue constraints. Nevertheless, as we have been briefing regularly, we are up to date with personnel costs. We have paid salaries up to date.

“The MTEF was a very well prepared document after extensive consultations. We consulted the private sector and the non-governmental organisations (NGOs), etc.

“But the assumptions of that MTEF were assumptions which were true and correct as of the time it was prepared in August.

“Naturally, every time you improve on your assumptions based on the latest estimates. For instance, one of the issues they raised was about the exchange rate; that we used $290 as the exchange rate, and that was the exchange rate of the time.

“So, you only use the exchange rate that is valid at that time. Naturally, by now, you will change that.

“As such, whenever we appear before the National Assembly, we will engage them and take them one by one through each item.

“But that MTEF was extremely well prepared, consistent with the best possible methods of preparation by people who are very experienced in preparing the document.”

Story by Oputah David