No date for passage of 2018 budget yet – Senate

The Senate has said it is uncertain when the 2018 Appropriation Bill will be passed by the National Assembly.

The legislature and the executive have been passing the buck on which arm of government is responsible for the delayed passage of the budget, which President Muhammadu Buhari laid before a joint session of the National Assembly on November 7, 2017.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, while briefing journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, stated that he could not ascertain when the budgetary process would end.

“The budget process is on and I cannot tell you ‘this is the specific day it is going to end.’ All I can tell you specifically is that we are working very hard on it and we want to assure Nigerians that, at the end of the day, we will have a budget that will serve the purpose of Nigerians,” he said.

Sabi-Abdullahi also stated that he could not ascertain the level of response by the Federal Government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies whose heads were accused of failing to turn up for budget defence sessions being held by relevant legislative committees.

The Senate had on February 14, 2018 asked 63 agencies and parastatals under the Federal Government to submit details of their proposed 2018 budgets within one week or risk sanctions.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly had decried that while the President had complied with the law by laying the 2018 Appropriation Bill along with details of estimates before the lawmakers, the agencies of the government had disregarded the law.

Later on February 28, the Senate asked Nigerians to blame members of Buhari’s cabinet and the MDAs under their portfolios for the delay in the passage of the budget.

The lawmakers alleged that ministers and heads of Federal Government’s departments and agencies were frustrating legislative work on the budget proposals with their foreign trips and non-cooperation.

But the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, denied the allegation, stating that the National Assembly already had enough details to work with and pass the Appropriation Bill.

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