In a bizarre political development on Wednesday, the parliament of Nigeria has had to delay consideration of the 2016 budget because the budget documents have been lost or stolen. A member of Nigeria’s parliament spoke to the BBC on Wednesday afternoon on condition of anonymity, saying that the senate of the African country had “lost” the pre-printed 2016 budget documents, but the lower house of the parliament has begun distributing the documents to its members.
As reported by ValueWalk, the Nigerian naira was pummeled on Tuesday after the Nigerian central bank announced a series of measures to protect foreign currency reserves.
Details on Nigeria’s missing 2016 budget documents
Apparently the Nigerian senate has not been able to begin debating the proposed budget because of the lost or stolen documents.
Political analysts highlight that any delay in passing a budget could make oil-dependent nation’s economic crisis even worse than it already is, particularly given the recent plunge in crude oil prices.
According to the BBC report, several Nigerian government sources have confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari delivered the copies of his proposed budget to both houses of parliament at the end of December. The 2016 budget spelled out how he planned to increase spending by 20%, which will require major borrowing by the government given plummeting oil prices.
Various sources are reporting that senate President Bukola Saraki held a closed door meeting with President Buhari late on Tuesday, but the topic or results of the meeting are not known..
The good news is that copies of the 2016 budget for the lower house are not “lost” and are being passed out to MPs on Wednesday.
BBC Nigeria analyst Naziru Mikailu notes that the loss of the budget documents is an “embarrassing development” for the parliament and the national government in general.
Nigerian MPs are already dealing with intense criticism for not reducing their salaries and allowances given the scale of the unfolding economic crisis.
In a breaking development, apparently several senators from the opposition political party have accused the government of taking the documents, according to Nigeria’s Premium Times
Presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu denied these charges, noting that: “Once the budget is submitted, it ceases to be our property.”
Those with cooler heads might argue that what is one extra day to reprint the budget documents, given the parliament will likely take at least two months to consider the $31 billion budget.