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Senate gives Presidency 2-week ultimatum over budget details of agencies

.Stops further spending by affected agencies
.’I can’t see how we can continue in a society where we are fighting corruption and people will be spending money without approval or appropriations’-Saraki

The Senate has given the Presidency two weeks ultimatum to as a matter of urgency submit budget details of erring Federal Government agencies to the National Assembly for appropriations in accordance with the provision of Section 21 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

It also ordered all the 38 agencies concerned to stop further capital expenditures in the current fiscal year until their budget details are submitted for appropriations by the legislature.

This Senate’s action was sequel to a motion titled, “Non-submission of 2017 budget by public corporations in violation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act”, sponsored by the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah.

Senator Na’Allah, who had on Tuesday drawn the attention of his colleagues to the non-submission of the 2017 budget proposals by the statutory corporations to the National Assembly, expressed worry of the Senate to the violation.

The lawmaker, who represents Kebbi South Senatorial District on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), said non-compliance to the provisions of the Act “constitutes abuse of power and economic sabotage aimed at frustrating the current economic measures being taken by the present administration to address the economic recession”.

According to him, the absence of penalties in the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act may have emboldened and encouraged the perpetration of this act of violation.

He, however, berated the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) for “failing in its responsibility through complacence in the execution of its mandate”.

In his contributions, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said since the constitution is supreme, its provisions should have a binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the country.

Ekweremadu, who quoted Sections 80 (1), (2) and (3) of the constitution, said the matter bothers on responsibility of governance.

He said: “We are here talking about responsibility of governance. There cannot be any act of responsibility than that of the Fiscal Responsibility because that is the beginning of all evils, we must begin to ensure that we live by the laws we make for ourselves.

“If we say that ministers are supposed to send the estimates of various agencies under them with the appropriation act of each year that has to be done.

“I recall Mr. President that in 2016, our President, Muhammadu Buhari, sent to this National Assembly the Appropriation Act for that year together with those estimates while in 2017, while the ministers find it impossible to accompany the same Appropriation act 2017 with those estimates of the agencies under them.

“We cannot be going forth and back. I believe that this is time for us to insist under Section 88 that gives us power of oversight that this has to be done.

“We make laws here for the good governance of this country and that is actually what we have to insist. I believe we are going to insist that all agencies should stop expenditure of public funds unless it is appropriated in accordance with Section 80 of the constitution which we have sworn to uphold”, he said.

In his ruling, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said the motion was important to the fight against corruption by the present administration, especially since some agencies with independent revenue often exceed that of crude oil.

Saraki added that the subject matter was also crucial now that the government is looking for money to fund projects like hospitals, education, etc.

“This is where we get sources of revenue and I cannot see how we can continue in a society where we are fighting corruption and people will be spending money without approval or appropriations. It must stop, it will stop and is going to stop from now”, Saraki declared.

The affected agencies include Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE; National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, NASEI; Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA; Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA; Raw Materials Research and Development Council, RMRDC; National Sugar Development Council, NSDC, and the Nigerian Postal Service, NPS.

Also on the list are Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA; Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN; Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC; Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC; National Communications Commission, NCC; National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC; Nigerian Customs Service, NCS and National Broadcasting Commission, NBC.

Others include the National Insurance Commission, NIACOM; News Agency of Nigeria, NAN; Nigerian Copyrights Commission, NCC; Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC; Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA; Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS; Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS; Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC; Radio Nigeria; Federal Housing Authority, FHA; and the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA.

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