2017 budget setback: Senate postpones presentation of report


… Says 2016 budget to run till end of June

Cyril Ogar

The Senate Thursday deferred the presentation and consideration of the 2017 budget report.

The presentation and subsequent consideration of the budget report would have paved the way to the passage of the budget submitted to the National Assembly on December 14 , 2016.

Although the submission of the report was listed as the first business of the day in yesterday’s Order Paper, it was stepped down.

The inability of the Senate Appropriation committee to conclude work on the fiscal document was cited as the reason for stepping it down.

Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, told his colleagues that members of the Appropriation committee of the Senate and House of Representatives were working assiduously to resolve grey areas in the money bill.

Senator Lawan further informed that the budget report is now expected to be laid on May 9th, 2017.

The Senate leader did not say whether the budget will be passed on Tuesday.

Lawan said: “The committee chairman on Appropriations is not here. His counterpart who chairs the Finance committee is not here either. I am aware that members of Senate Appropriation committee are currently meeting with their counterparts in the House of Representatives, trying to settle the differences.

“I have also equally been informed that by the grace of God, the budget of 2017 will be laid on Tuesday. Having said this, I will move that we stand down this report till Tuesday.”

Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the day’s legislative business, said that there was no need to apprehension over the passage of the budget.

Ekeremadu noted that the 2016 budget could still run till end of June, within which the 2017 budget would be passed.

Ekweremadu said, “Let me also emphasise for the benefit of the public that we were ready to receive this report today. It was only this morning that it was necessary for us to be sure that we are on the same page with the House of Representatives to avoid any possible conferencing.

“So we will like to see the House and the Senate laying just the same documents so that once we pass, we will now send the documents to the President for assent.

“I think this is important that the point be made and the public know that the harmonization which is going on should be concluded over the weekend to enable us receive the budget report by Tuesday and by the grace of God, have it passed by next week and we will send it to the President for assent.

“Let me also inform the public as well that the tenure of the 2016 budget ends today the 5th because it was signed into law on the 6th of May 2016, but under the constitution, the Federal Government is entitled to continue to spend money based on the 2016 estimates up to the 30th of June, 2017.

“But we will not allow us to get into the reliance on the constitutional provision. Hopefully by the grace of God, we will have this budget next week. We will pass it so that implementation will start in earnest. So I just want to appeal for the understanding of the people of Nigeria.”

President Muhammadu Buhari signed the 2016 budget into law on the 6th of May, 2016.

The lifespan of the 2016 budget expires today, Friday, 5th May, 2017.

There was apprehension of a possible shutdown if the budget is not passed and assented to today.