Senate suspends plenary till next week, blames Executive for budget delay

Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 13 March 2019 | 678 times

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•Nigerian Senate Chamber

The Nigerian Senate has adjourned plenary to Tuesday, March 19, 2019 to enable Senators and House of Representatives members-elect to receive their certificates of return tomorrow, Thursday, March 14, from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

This was announced during plenary today by the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan.

Before the adjournment, the Senate considered the report of President Muhammadu Buhari on the 2019-2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) in accordance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, equally referred the Executive Communication to the Committee on Finance to report by Wednesday next week, with a view to continuing debate on the budget.

Speaking on the budget report, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu addressed the issue of Nigeria’s debt profile, saying: “It is important to address our infrastructural needs in the nation, but I believe there are other ways to fund this asides debt.”

He lamented that the Executive usually presents the Budget late in the year, giving the National Assembly little time to deliberate on the budget.

According to him, “The Executive gives us very little time for implementation of the budget. It is important that we discipline ourselves and correct this in the future.”

Senator Barau Jibrin, in his contribution, said that the purpose of the budget is to promote inclusiveness and diversify the economy and to also build economy and make it globally competitive.

He said: “I am sure that the Government has put measures in place to ensure that the targets in this budget are met.”

Former Leader of the Senate who represents Borno South, Ali Ndume, while contributing to the debate, urged the chamber on fast implementation of the budget, saying that “Time is not on our side. Nigerians are anxious and the Executive is waiting to implement.”

“I am appealing that we try our best to pass the Budget before the end of this month; let us set that target so that anything else comes up as a supplementary budget or an amendment to the already passed budget,” he added.

Also supporting Ndume on the speedy passage of the budget and its implementation, lawmaker representing Kebbi South, Senator Bala Na’allah opined: “Let us take into account that the election took most of our time and went into the time set for the proposal of this Budget.”

He also urged colleagues to critically look into the aspect of funding of Agriculture in the budget. He said: “I also want to suggest that it may be necessary for the National Assembly to set a date to critically look at the funding of Agriculture in the nation as opposed to other sectors. Providing food for the nation is critical and very important to any country.”

Buttressing further, lawmaker representing Kebbi Central, Senator Adamu Aliero, identified on the need to look into promoting agriculture in the nation, apart from budgetary allocation.

He said: “We should look into ways where programmes can be created to fund this sector. We need to stop importing products we already have.

“I also don’t believe we are borrowing so much as a nation. Our GDP is good enough to sustain this borrowing, so I don’t believe it is a problem.”

Lawmaker representing Benue South, Senator Barnabas Gemade spoke on how revenue leakages should be blocked and total removal of petroleum subsidy.

In his words: “Funding is an area that affects implementation the most and it’s usually greatly ignored. Going forward in 2019, the Government should pay more attention to revenue and ensure that leakages are blocked.

“The issue of petroleum subsidy should also be addressed. Every Government that comes into power speaks of abolishing subsidy but does nothing about it for fear of not being re-elected and this has to stop. There should be a removal of the subsidy completely.”

He added: “Manufacturing of products within the country should be promoted as this is sure to create more jobs. It is also important that if we must move forward as a people, there should be no incentive given to criminals.”

Source: News Express

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