By Ignatius Okorocha
The Senate, yesterday, threatened to deny funds to ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government, which failed to adhere strictly to the 2021 budget defence timetable.
The threat was given by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his remark at the end of the debate on the general principles of the 2021 Appropriation Bill.
Lawan, who revealed that the budget defence would commence on Tuesday next week, also said that the exercise would end in the first week of November.
He pointed out that ministers were expected to appear in person for the budget defence, warning that any minister who failed to appear within the stipulated time frame would not get allocations for the ministry.
Lawan recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, while presenting the Appropriation Bill to the joint session of the National Assembly last week Thursday, directed that ministers should come in person for the budget defence.
According to him, “This is in continuation of our efforts to ensure the desirable cycle that we have taken the annual budget to (January – December) will be a legacy.
“This will be our legacy as the 9th National Assembly and the legacy of Me. President.
“We have been able to do this together and there’s definitely a difference in the implementation of the 2020 budget compared to the others.
“Some Ministries and projects have received up to 75 percent funding. There’s none that has received less than 50 percent.
“While this may not be exactly what we want, it is still an improvement and we will continue to urge the executive to implement the budget up to 100 percent.
“But I believe that we have seen the benefit of passing the budget in good time, and this is something that we will continue to do,” the Senate President said.
On monies generated by agencies of government, Lawan faulted the country’s low revenue earnings on the failure of revenue agencies to remit all sums to the Federation Account after collection.
He therefore advocated for improved revenue generation, collection and remittance methods as way of shoring the nation’s revenue figures.
“Like all of us, I also have some observations. Firstly, I think our revenue generation, collection and remittances need to be better.
The Senate President announced that the relevant Committees would interface on a monthly basis with revenue generating agencies to evaluate their performance and device ways on how same can be improved where they underperform or fail to meet revenue targets.
He added that doing so would reduce the deficit contained in next year’s budget and subsequent ones, as well as reduce Nigeria’s dependence on loans to finance capital projects which the country direly needs.
“When we are able to get more revenues, we will reduce the deficit, because this budget has big deficit, and this is because we simply have no resources as at today and we need to have our infrastructure in place.
Meanwhile, the apex legislative Chamber has disclosed that it would pass the 2021 Appropriation Bill by December 3, 2020.
The Chairman, Senate committee on Appropriations, Senator Barau Jibrin, made the disclosure at a press briefing with Chairmen of various Senate committees in attendance.
He noted that there would be a joint public hearing on the bill, to be conducted by both the Senate and the House of Representatives on the 9th and 10 of November.