2017 Budget: Saraki gives Thursday deadline to committees to submit reports

*Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, President of the Nigerian Senate.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

29 March 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has given a final deadline of Thursday, this week, for sub-committees to submit their 2017 budget reports to the Appropriations Committee.

Saraki, who gave the order after a closed-door session, expressed disappointment that about 20 committees were yet to submit report to the Danjuma Goje-led Appropriations Committee.

‎He warned that after Thursday’s deadline, the Senate would have no choice but rely on submissions from the Executive.

Order 98 (10) of the Senate Standing Rules 2015 (as amended), gives the Senate Appropriations Committee power of annual appropriation bill, while other standing committees regarded as sub-committees in this instance submit their reports to the Appropriations Committee, which in turn submit same to Committee of the Whole.

“Committees should submit their reports unfailingly by Thursday to Appropriations. This is the seventh time we are making this appeal. There are about 20 committees yet to submit their report. Please ensure by Thursday latest, you submit your report to Appropriations.

“After Thursday, we will have no alternative but go by the executive submission. This is the last time we are making this announcement. All chairmen of committees unfailingly by Thursday, kindly ensure that your report is with the chairman of Appropriations,” he stated.

On Monday, Goje declared that the 2017 budget may be passed before May 2017. This came as the Senate disclosed that the lifespan of the 2016 budget would end on May 5, 2017.

Goje’s confirmation of the 2017 budget passage is contrary to the March 30 deadline given by Senate President Bukola Saraki.

The Appropriations Committee chairman warned heads of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to desist from the practice of “mopping up” of funds at the end of March 2017 stating that there was no reason for that.

Speaking to journalists at the National Assembly on Monday, Goje said the National Assembly may be compelled to extend the validity period of the budget, in the event that it is unable to pass the 2017 Appropriation Bill on or before the midnight of 5th of May, 2017.

He explained: “Last year when we were producing this 2016 Appropriation Bill, we realized that at the end of each year, there were usually requests for an extension of the budget from the executive. To avoid that, we decided to incorporate this new thing.

“In the 2016 Appropriation Act, which President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law, clause 11 of it says that “in line with the provisions of Section 318 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, this bill will run for a period of 12 months, starting from the day it is assented to.

“President Buhari signed this bill into law on the 6th of May, 2016. This means this budget will run from that date up to the midnight of 5th of May, 2017. Unless of course if the Act is amended or altered as deemed fit by the National Assembly.

“As far as the law is concerned, there is no need for any extension or mop up by Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs). The mop up they usually do will now be illegal. Except the National Assembly, in conjunction with the executive, amend this law, this is the position of the 2016 budget.

“We do not have to extend the 2016 budget. If May comes and there is need to extend, then we can do otherwise. I believe before that date, the 2017 budget will be passed. For now, this is the position of the law.”

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