Gives Buhari two-week ultimatum to submit budget
The Senate Tuesday barred 38 corporations, agencies and parastatals from the further expenditure of their capital budget 2017.
The upper chamber also gave President Muhammadu Buhari two-week ultimatum to submit the 2017 budget of corporations, agencies and parastatals of the Federal Government for consideration and approval of the National Assembly.
It said that the submission of the budget proposals should be done within two weeks in compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act and the Constitution.
It resolved that affected corporations, agencies and parastatals should stop forthwith further expenditure from their capital vote pending the submission of their 2017 budget to the National Assembly in line with Section 21 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
The lawmakers further resolved that too urgently amend the Fiscal Responsibility Act to penalise infractions of non-submission of the budget for appropriation.
Only on Tuesday, the Senate said that 38 agencies are in breach of the Fiscal Responsibility Act for failure to submit their 2017 budget for approval by the National Assembly.
The resolutions followed the unanimous adoption of a motion entitled: “Non-submission of 2017 budget by public corporations in violation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act” sponsored by Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (Kebbi South).
Na’Allah in his lead debate said that the Senate should be worried about the non-submission of the 2017 budget proposal by statutory corporations to the National Assembly.
He noted that Section 21(1)(2) and (3) of the FRA stipulates that “The government Corporations and agencies and government-owned companies listed in the Schedule to this Act (in this Act referred to as the Corporation) shall, not latter that six months from the commencement of this Act and for every three financial years thereafter and not later than the end of the second quarter of every year, cause to be prepared and submitted to the Minister their Schedule estimates of revenue and expenditure for the next three financial year.
The Act also said that “Each of the bodies referred to in Section (1) of this Section shall submit to the Minister not later the end of August in each financial year: a, An annual budget derived from the estimates submitted in pursuance of subsection (1) of this section; and b, projected operating surplus which shall be prepared in line with acceptable accounting practices”…….
Na’ Allah observed that non-compliance to the provisions of the FRA constitutes an abuse of power and economic sabotage aimed at frustrating the current economic measures being taken by the present administration to address the economic recession.
He noted that the absence of penalties in the provisions of FRA has emboldened and encouraged the perpetration of the Act.
Na’Allah said that Senate should be concerned that the FRA is failing in its responsibility through complacency in the execution of its mandate.
Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who seconded the motion noted that the Constitution is supreme while its provisions shall be a binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the country.
Ekweremadu said, “This constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have a binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It goes further in section 80(2) to say that “No money shall be withdrawn from the consolidated revenue fund of the federation except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.”
“We are here talking about the responsibility of governance. There cannot be any hard responsibility than Fiscal Responsibility because that is the beginning of all evils, we must begin to ensure that we live by the laws we make for ourselves. If we say that ministers are supposed to send the estimates of various agencies under them with the appropriation act of each year that has to be done.
“I recall Mr. President in 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari sends to this National Assembly the appropriation bill for that year together with those estimates. While in 2017, the ministers find it impossible to accompany the same appropriation act 2017 with those estimates of the agencies under them.
“We cannot be going forth and back. I believe that this is time for us to insist under section 88 that gives us the power of oversight that this has to be done. We make laws here for the good governance of this country and that is actually what we have to insist. I believe that time has come when we are going to insist that all agencies should stop the expenditure of public funds unless it is appropriated in accordance with section 80 of the constitution which we have sworn to uphold.
“It is our responsibility today to ensure that ultimatum is given to agencies under this government to bring this estimates for us to duly appropriate that is why the constitution provided for a full-time legislature because there is enormous work to be done.”
Senator George Thompson Sekibo (River East) asked: “if a man who is to give the law fails the law but happens to him because if a man puts a law and another man fails.”
He described the non-submission of the budget estimates of the agencies as a gross misconduct that should not be glozed over “because they are spending public funds.
Senator Solomon Adeola said that the non-submission of the estimates is deliberate.
He suggested that committees should meet with affected agencies.
Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, thank Na’Allah “for this important motion.”
Saraki said that the motion is at the heart of the fight against corruption in the country.
He said,”Truly this motion is at the heart of this fight against corruption and it is very important as we have seen that independent revenue, the amount of money from independent revenue even exceeds how much we get on oil revenue.
“So, it is a huge amount of our revenue line even when we are talking about looking for money to fund projects, hospitals, education. This is where the source of the revenue are and I cannot see how we can continue in a society where we are fighting corruption where people will be spending money without approval, without appropriations, it must stop, it will stop and it is going to stop from now.
“Clearly we have made our position that based on this amendment this agencies they must get their budget to us in two weeks and committee chairmen I want to appeal that once we get the budget on our own part as well let’s ensure that we do it publicly, very diligently and try and turn it around as quickly as possible.”
Saraki also said that agencies that did not pass through the right channel to submit their budget to the National Assembly should do the right thing.
Affected agencies included Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC,) Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASEI), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
Others are the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), National Maritime Authority (NMA), Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Nigerian Postal Service (NPS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
The list also includes the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), National Communications Commission (NCC), National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
Others are National Insurance Commission (NIC), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Nigerian Copyrights Commission (NCC), Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Radio Nigeria, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB), Federal Mortgage Bank, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), as well as Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGZFA).