Smarting from a two-week break during which it reviewed the performance of the 2017 budget against the proposals for 2018, the Senate on Tuesday described President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Team as unserious and frustrating early passage of the document.
The upper legislative chamber made it clear that the December 2017 target for passage of the 2018 Appropriation Bill was not feasible, blaming this on the alleged unpreparedness of the executive arm of government to defend the fiscal proposals.
The aggrieved lawmakers noted that the budget might be passed in March next year going by the manner the heads of ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, were going about the budget defence of their various establishments.
Some of the senators also called for the extension of the lifespan of the 2017 budget from December 31 to March 31, to pave the way for more implementation of the budget, which the entire chamber agreed was dismally implemented.
The disappointment of the lawmakers was such that many of them called for the jettisoning of the 2018 Appropriation Bill, which they said is “heavily padded, inconsistent, full of errors and inacurracies”.
Arising from the executive session by the lawmakers, Saraki the chamber went into the closed-door meeting to extensively deliberate on issues bordering on the 2018 fiscal proposal and asserted that the executive arm must sit up.
Summing up the misgivings of his colleagues, the Senate President said “it is very disheartening and disappointing because we know how much we have put into the budget process”.
“By now, 2017 budget should have been implemented by up to between 40 and 60 per cent, but this has not been the case. This makes it very difficult for us, we cannot turn into magicians. I continue to appeal that you work within what you have and let us do our best to ensure that we have a budget that is in the interest of Nigerians.
“The executive on their part should sit up and not just make rhetoric, but get down to work. If 2017 budget items are not rolled over to 2018 that is a disaster. Let the executive show some seriousness towards the budget exercise,” he said.