…As non-submission of report may hinder passage today
Nigerians may have their hope for the passage of 2018 Budget today dashed as there is uncertainty over the possibility of the National Assembly to meet today’s deadline.
The Daily Times recalls that the lawmakers had set April 24 for the passage of the N8.612tn budget presented to a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives on November 7, 2017.
But doubts over possibility of passing the budget was heightened by the inability of Senate and the House of Representatives to present the report on the budget in the two chambers on April 19 as earlier promised by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, who said “the consideration and passage of the budget will be on April 24. The committees will submit their report on April 19. This will be a harmonised report.”
His pronouncement was corroborated by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who on April 10, said the Committee on Appropriation should present its report for consideration and passage by the chamber last week.
Saraki said the deadline would not be extended, noting that the Senate would not be held to ransom by the 20 sub-committees who had yet to present their reports to the Committee on Appropriation.
While the chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje and Senate spokesperson, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, could not be reached to comment on the issue, The Daily Times reliably gathered that the Senate Committee on Appropriation is still grappling with compilation and harmonisation of reports by the standing committees on the budgets of ministries, departments and agencies under their supervision.
Both the executive and legislature have talked over their differences and resolved to hasten the passage of the appropriation in the interest of the nation.
This was followed by President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive that agencies, parastatals and government-owned companies submit the details of their budgets for consideration in accordance with the law.
He also directed heads of the agencies to honour invitation from the National Assembly to defend their budgets without further delay.
Nigeria has been experiencing delays in its budget process since the return to democratic rule in 1999, owing to power tussle between the executive and the legislature.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), a fortnight ago, expressed displeasure over the delay in the budget passage.
Lamenting the economic implication of the budget delay, Ozo-Eson, the NLC scribe said: “The budget is supposed to among other things show the direction of the economic policies for the year, which will then influence the economic planning by economic agents, both in the private and the public sector.
“Because in the economy, people respond to the economy of the budget, so if by the beginning of the second quarter, we still have not had the budget passed, it means that they are having economic function without direction”.