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Senate Frowns at  Late Submission, Passage Of Annual Budgets, Move To Set Time Frame

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja

BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Senate on Thursday  sent signals to the Presidency that it would no longer condone the practice of  late submission and passage of annual budget by seeking to impose time frame for submission as well as deadline for approval of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).  

The Senate in ensuring the stoppage of the practice, is also considering  that timeframe for the defence of budget proposals by ministries, departments and agencies is strictly adhered to.

These were fallouts of general debate on the  Senator Ali Ndume-led Committee report, on Eight Senate Legislative Agenda which was read on the floor of the Senate yesterday.  

The report proposes a comprehensive review of Nigeria’s budgeting and planning process towards achieving efficient and results-oriented use of national income and resources.

It states: “The components of the Senate legislative intervention in the budget process will include a comprehensive legislative-executive initiative on the budget to address the challenges currently being experienced in the national budgeting system.

“The following areas would be attended to: review of the budgeting and planning process and the National Assembly Budget and Research Office; time frame for submission and deadline for approval of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF); deadline for submission and passage of the appropriation bill as well as Defence of budget proposals by ministries, departments and agencies”.

The agenda also promised to revisit some laws,  bills and reports which we’re not completed in the 7th Senate. These include  Petroleum Industry Bill, National Conference report; Constitutional amendment bill; National Poverty Eradication Commission bill as well as bills seeking to strengthen law enforcement and regulatory agencies. But this segment of the report did not go down well with Senator Oluremi Tinubu, ( APC Lagos Central), who urged her colleagues to push everything about the administration of People’s Democratic Party behind them.  

She wondered the rationale of bringing up issues that the party could not handle in their 16 years in power.  A submission countered by Senator Chukwuka Utazi, ( PDP  Enugu North) who was of the opinion that partisan politics be kept aside in the interest of national development, saying “We should keep abay party issues”.    
He noted that though they have all come to the Senate through a party platform, he condemned the practice of always referring to political parties.  

“While we are here, we should concentrate on national assignment and not on our respective political  parties”, he said.

He added that for Abiye Sekibo of Rivers State to present a motion on the menace of Boko Haram was a sign of cooperation which was expected among them.  Senator Mau Ohuabunwa ( PDP  Abia North), in his contribution,  urged his colleagues to focus more emphasis on the development of infrastructure, especially road construction and rehabilitation which has suffered serious neglect by successive administrations.

 On the annual budget, he stressed the  implicatioins of late presentation of budget, saying ” the delay in presenting and adopting MTEF and the budget proposals does not allow the National Assembly ample time for proper scrutiny of the content”.  
He urged the Senate to give executive a timeframe within which to present the documents. The Senate however suspended debate on the report till another legislative day.


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