The president of the 9th Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan has reiterated the legislature’s commitment towards ensuring accelerated passage of the 2020 budget “in a good and desirable time”. He expressed optimism that the cordial relationsip between the Executive and Legislature will provide those laudable objectives of physical infrastructure and socio-economic services to Nigerian citizens.
He stated this after the presentation of the 2020 budget by the President, Muhammadu Buhari.
Lawan said, “the public, as well as the private sectors need a reliable Budget cycle that is predictable, and reliable for planning and execution of their fiscal and financial policies and programmes. It is therefore, necessary that the present cycle is changed to a January-December cycle. In this regard, the National Assembly, and the Executive must work together to ensure the realization of this important objective.
“The National Assembly after the receipt of the Budget Estimates promised to swing into swift action, to start work. Both Chambers of the National Assembly have constituted their Committees, we are therefore, ready to start processing the Budget estimates.”
In addition, Lawan said, “the 9th National Assembly has shown capacity, commitment and willingness to treat legislative matters that will impact on the lives of our citizens with dispatch and every sense of urgency. This was clearly demonstrated last week, when we received, processed and passed the request of Mr President on the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP).
He assured that the National Assembly will treat the 2020 Budget Estimates with the same commitment or even more. “In our effort to pass the Budget, we will also be guided by the legislative requirement of a thorough scrutiny.”
To this end, he assured that the National Assembly Committees are “ready to receive the Honourable Ministers and other heads of government agencies for the defence of the Budget estimates of the various MDAs. In order for timely passage, all MDAs are expected to appear before the Committees for the defence of their Budget estimates within the month of October. We have earmarked the month of October to be the sole window for all Budget defence activities in this year, by all MDAs.”
Senator Lawan who underscored the need to ensure prudence, economy and value for money in the delivery of services to the citizenry, maintained that “over the years, our public procurement process appears to be encumbered by a lengthy bidding process and inadequate mobilisation of funds, amongst other limitations of the Public Procurement Act 2007, as amended.
“These tend to delay execution of Government programmes and projects, or even stalled achieving the execution at all. The National Assembly will fast track the amendment of the Act, to ensure effective and efficient implementation of our Budgets.
In his remarks, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who observed that there are significant structural flaws in the process of passage and implementation of our annual national budgets, pledged the resolve of the 9th Assembly towards addressing “these past imperfections and to leave a legacy of budgets that are enacted without rancour, implemented diligently and that achieve the objectives of national development for which they are intended.
“We fully intend to return to a January to December budget cycle and to put an end to the policy instability and economic uncertainty that is a consequence of an unpredictable budget cycle.
“We recognise that our highest ambitions and the collective best interests of our nationhood can only be achieved when the legislature and the executive work together in pursuit of our shared ambitions. Therefore, we will make every effort in this 9th assembly to achieve constructive collaboration with the executive on all matters of appropriation, implementation and oversight.
“We will seek collaboration, but we will not yield on our constitutional obligation to ensure faithful compliance with the letter and spirit of the Appropriation Act by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the government. We will strive for big wins, resisting the temptation to bask in the false allure of mediocre achievements because this moment calls for nothing short of grand ambition, and transformative ideas. Above all else, we will hold ourselves in the legislature and others, to the highest standards of probity because to fall short of excellence will be to betray the calling of leadership to which we all have answered,” he urged.
Earlier, President Buhari had informed the lawmakers of his administration’s resolve to roll-over capital projects that are not likely to be fully funded by the end of 2019 into the 2020 Budget. We are aware that the National Assembly shares our view that these projects should be prioritised and given adequate funding in the 2020 Appropriation Act.