*Charges MDAs to defend proposals next week
* Buhari assures of representing PIGB
By Ignatius Okorocha
President of the Senate Ahamd Lawan has expressed the resolve of the two chambers of the National Assembly to fast track the passage of the 2020 appropriation Bill before the end of next month.
This was as President Muhammadu has announced his administration’s commitment to represent the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill to the National Assembly for passage and subsequent assent.
Recall that the PIB has for the past 15 years gone through successive National Assembly without getting the assent of the past and current presidency.
The president of the Senate who stated this at the budget presentation by President Buhari at the joint session of the Senate and House of Representative yesterday said it this resolve of the apex legislature to ensure that the present budgetary cycle is changed to a January-December cycle.
“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 today, will 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.
“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).
“Your Excellency, 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,” he said.
According to him, “the National Assembly Committees are ready to receive the Honourable Ministers and other heads of government agencies for the defense 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 defense activities in this year, by all MDAs.
“In this regard, our Committees will be expected to conclude their work on Budget defence within October, this year. The subsequent necessary legislative work will be carried out in November and December, leading to eventual passage before the end of this year.”
According to Lawa,” implementation of the Budget is as important and vital as the passage of the Bill, probably even more. Our Committees will work assiduously to undertake oversight to ensure proper and timely execution of the programmes and projects of Government. We need to ensure prudence, economy and value for money in the delivery of services to our people.
“Over the years, our public procurement process appears to be encumbered by a lengthy bidding process and inadequate mobilsation 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.”
Speaking also at the budget presentation,the Speaker of the house of Representatives yesterday said that the 9th Assemble will improve on past imperfections and leave a legacy of budgets that are enacted without rancour, implemented diligently to 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.”