Why Senate may not pass 2018 budget till April — Senator Adeola

ABEOKUTA—Chairman, Senate House   Committee on Local Content, Senator Solomon Adeola has explained why the Senate may not pass into law the   2018 appropriation bill presented by President Muhammadu Buhari. He declared that the Senate may not pass the budget until March or April, 2018. Adeola, who represents Lagos West at the Senate,  absolved the Senate of delaying the passage of the proposed 2018 budget, accused  ministries and departments of refusing to submit documents necessary for passage of the bill. Addressing newsmen in Ilaro, at  the sideline of the end-of-year get-together organised for members and chieftains of the All Progressives Congress, APC,  on Wednesday, said Senate would not allow itself to be a rubber stamp  for the executive. Adeola said rather than blaming  the Senate, government ministries, agencies and parastatals, should be blamed for failure to provide the necessary documentations and defend their respective financial proposals before the Senate. Disclosing that members of the Senate had worked round the clock to ensure prompt passage of the budget by December 21, 2017, the lawmaker lamented the lack of sense of urgency by the Federal Government’s agencies in defending their fiscal proposals, to enable the senate pass the budget in record time. The Senator, however, declared that unless the Senate is provided with documentation, fact and figures to work with, the senate could not just rubber stamp the 2018 budget. He said: “Let me make some clarification on the issue of the budget. As you can see the last time, we’re trying to work round the clock to ensure that by 31st of December 2017, if possibly for the first time, in our nation’s history we can pass the budget in a record time. But as it were, documentation and facts and figures that we need to buttress all items of transaction both in the recurrent and capital expenditure as contained in that particular document is not given to us by these ministries and the lackadaisical attitude of the various agencies of the government, both the ministries and parastatals, is nothing to write home about. “Because, it is when they are prepared to defend these documentation, those figures as contained in that document that we can be looking at the record time in passing this budget. Since we don’t have all these documentation and the figures to work with, it will be difficult for us as a National Assembly. We can’t be rubber stamp. The power of the purse is the power that resides with us as the legislature. Yes, the government has submitted their document, their proposal, their policy in numerical term called budget. “But we have the option to look at these issues critically and analysed if the N7 or N8trillion budget as proposed by the president is achievable or not. And that can only be done if the right documentation, figures are given to us. “The MTEF had their issues; we are able to overcome the issue of MTEF – the Medium Term Expenditure Framework which we have since passed at the National Assembly. “But if we are going to pass 2018 budget in a record time, there is need for us to know the performance of 2017 budget. We cannot be pre-emptive. We need to look at the performance upon which we can predicate whatever we are doing with the 2018 budget upon. And if all these documentations are not given to us, there is little or nothing we can do as a National Assembly. “So, we are hoping the Executive takes this seriously, then look inward and ensure that all necessary documentation that will assist the National Assembly in considering this budget before us should be forwarded to us so that we can work round the clock and give Nigeria this document in a record time maybe by March or April this year.”

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