Abdulrazak Namdas, spokesman of the house of representatives, says it will take a minimum of three months for the 2018 budget to be ready.
While presenting the budget to the national assembly earlier in the month, President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to the lawmakers to make it ready by January 1.
But speaking with The Nation, Namdas said the January-to-December budget calendar is not feasible because there are about 20 legislative sitting days remaining in the year.
He said since the lawmakers cannot return the appropriation bill the way it was presented, they need adequate time to work on it
“When the president presented his speech on the budget presentation day, he expressed the wish that the budget is approved by January 1,” he said.
“We are saying that we will work faster since the 2018 appropriation bill was brought a little bit earlier, we should also be able to approve the budget a little earlier.
“But I cannot be specific about a date since we are few weeks to the end of December. This is about 20 sitting days. So, if I sit here in the comfort of my office to assure Nigerians that the budget will be passed by 1st of January, you and even them will know it’s not feasible.
“For the budget process, you should be looking at a minimum of three months. We will deliberate on the basic principles of the budget, it will be committed to committees to work on it, meet with MDAs and they now send their report to the appropriation committee. All of these processes take time.
“I think people should be more concerned about the national assembly and the executive coming up with an implementable budget, rather than focusing on a January date.”
Namdas added that the house had put checks in place to prevent padding of the budget.
Two days ago, the senate postponed a debate on the budget, citing the need to pass the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF).
MTEF sets out the medium-term expenditure priorities and hard budget constraints against which sector plans can be developed and refined.
It is usually a three- or five-year document. Nigeria adopted the three-year MTEF when Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala became minister of finance.