By Patience Danjuma
The Senate on Thursday said it would not allow the Executive arm to embark on the selective implementation of projects in the 2017 budget under the guise of completing priority projects.
The upper legislative chamber made the resolution after debating recommendations of the Senate Joint Committee on Appropriation and Finance on the implementation of the 2017 budget.
The committee had on Tuesday met with the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and her counterpart in the Budget and National Planning Ministry, Udoma Udoma.
Adeosun and Udoma had explained to the committee that projects in 2016 budget were rolled over to 2017 and thus the federal government had to prioritise by spending on projects that are nearing completion.
Presenting the report, Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje said the lawmakers arrived at 7 recommendations based on explanations from the ministers.
Goje reading the recommendations noted that the joint committee resolved that ”necessary steps should be taken to ensure that the executive does not embark on a selective implementation of under the guise of completing priority projects because this will offend the spirit of the appropriation act.”
The Senate also rejected the plan of implementing about 40 percent of the budget based on the need to return the 2018 budget to a January-December calendar year.
Reacting to this, the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, said that instead of prioritising projects, the executive should work towards implementing a larger percentage of the 2017 budget.
“I believe that we can perform more than 40 per cent by December. We should continue to engage the executive arm of government on how we will achieve more than 40 per cent. ”
The committee also noted that as much as it was important for the executive to return to predictable budget cycle, this should be done without sacrificing 60 per cent of this year’s capital projects. It also advised that the 2018 budget be passed expeditiously once brought before the National Assembly to allow for full implementation.
It also encouraged the executive to ensure that all MDAs are properly captured and all employment properly budgeted and approved and that the use of operating surplus of the internally generated revenue, IGR of government-owned enterprises, should be properly explored while blocking all leakages in government finance.
Six of the recommendations were accepted. The only rejected recommendation was that stating that “the issue of external borrowing be resolved without further delay”.
The Senate said there was no such request for external borrowing before it at present.
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