23 February 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Senate has fixed a time-frame for the passage of the 2017 Budget.
This is coming despite the complaint by the Senate of the failure of Ministers and Chief Executive Officers of Ministries, Departments and Agencies to appear for budget defence.
The complaint was laid on Wednesday at plenary.
But briefing newsmen after plenary, the Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said the budget would be passed mid-March.
Sabi said the Senate was working day and night to ensure the timely passage of the budget.
The Senate last Monday held a first-of-its-kind public hearing on the 2017 Appropriation Bill submitted to the legislature by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to a statement by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, the Public Hearing is aimed at allowing stakeholders and members of the public to make contributions to the proposed legislation before passage by the National Assembly.
Over the past week, the Senate has suspended regular plenary sessions in order to give all committees an opportunity to conduct adequate oversight and for ministries, departments and agencies of the federal government to defend the allocations included in the estimates submitted to the legislature by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The joint public hearing was expected to push the budget defence a step further by allowing members of the public to weigh-in constructively on ways to improve the appropriations bill.
“This will be the first time something like this is happening,” Abdullahi said, “It’s a testament to the leadership and foresight of the Senate President, and the commitment of the 8th Senate as a whole to ensure that the budget is passed transparently — with adequate feedback from the general public.”
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, stated that the historic public hearing on the budget was aimed at ensuring more citizen-participation in the legislative processes.
“We will continue to create platforms such as these, that will allow the general public to play a role in what we do here,” the Senate President said, “Moving forward, the public can expect that we will continue this practice of having an open budget hearing where every-day Nigerians are primary contributors.”