Monday, 19 March 2018

Come And Defend Your Budget This Week - NASS Tells Ministers

The Senate and the House of Representatives have asked ministers and heads of agencies to heed President Muhammadu Buhari's sack warning by appearing for the defence of the 2018 budget this week. It was gathered that after Thursday's late night meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, the Senate President, Dr . Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr . Yakubu Dogara, relayed the outcome to key committee chairmen working on the budget.

It was also gathered on Sunday that chairmen of the committees of both chambers had started sending reminders to ministers to come for budget defence this week. A senior parliamentary source in the House said, "The chairmen were told to issue fresh reminders to heads of ministries, departments and agencies, who had been uncooperative in their attitude to the budget defence. "They are expected to improve on their appearances, this week, before the committees to defend their estimates.

"The President seemed not to know the cause of the delay of the budget prior to the meeting. "However, from the meeting he had with the leadership of the National Assembly, where the Senate President and Dogara were in attendance, Buhari realised that he had to caution his cabinet members.”He stated that the committees had started sending reminders through their respective clerks. He said, "They (the committees) are writing to the MDAs and stating clearly the information they are required to submit to the committees.”

The N8. 612 tn budget has been held up at the National Assembly since November 7, 2017, when the President presented it to the lawmakers. It was learnt that Buhari, who was worried over the delay, had invited the leaders of the National Assembly to the meeting to discuss it, among other issues. At the meeting, Saraki and Dogara reportedly blamed ministers and heads of agencies for the delay. The government officials were said to have always given one excuse or another as the reason they were unable to appear before the committee.

The committees also complained that a few officials, who bothered to appear, were unprepared, as they did not come with the breakdown of their budget proposals. It was further gathered that of particular concern to the committees was the performance of the 2017 budget. The President, after the Thursday meeting, had threatened to sack about 50 heads of the MDAs, who had yet to defend their budgets, should they ignore further invitations from the legislature. Findings indicated on Sunday that many committee chairmen had started sending reminders to the ministers and heads of agencies to appear this week.

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