Monday, September 26, 2016 11:46 pm
Principal officers of the National Assembly and Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state, have advocated timely submission of budget as antidote to the problems facing the document.
They made the submission on Monday in Abuja at a colloquium on budgetary reforms with the theme: “Budget as tool for accelerated Economic Development in Nigeria,” organised by OrderPaper.ng.
In his remarks, Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, declared that timely presentation of budget by the executive was key to budgetary reforms in the country.
He explained that early submission of budget ensured transparency, adding that late submission was detrimental to the country’s push for economic growth and rapid development.
Mr Yakubu Dogara, Speaker, House of Representatives, called for review of legal framework to ensure that annual budget was submitted on time.
Dogara, called for the amendment of section 82 of the constitution to reduce the time the previous year’s budget would continue to run in the event the Appropriation Bill is not passed at the beginning of the financial year.
He said that late submission of budget distorts the budgetary process.
He said that the constitution empowers the National Assembly to tinker with the estimates sent to it by the executive.
Dogara said: “Recent events have brought to fore the extent of the powers of the National Assembly with respect to the budgeting process.
“Indeed many commentators, including lawyers, have contended that the power of the National Assembly is restricted to examining the budget and making corrections where necessary.
“Some contend that the appropriation power enables the National Assembly to reduce but not to increase expenditure and that it lacks the power to introduce new items into the budget.
“However, a close examination of the constitution shows otherwise.
“Section 4 grants general law making powers to the National Assembly; Section 80, particularly 80(2); 80(3) and 80(4) are unambiguous.
“Funds cannot be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund of the federation or other public funds of the federation without legislative approval and or authorisation.
“The constitution requires that all legitimate federal expenditure must be in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly, not by the executive.
“It is our firm view that the word ‘manner’ used in S.80(4) connotes some form of discretion on the part of the National Assembly”.
In his submission, Aminu Tambuwal, Sokoto state governor and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, also lent his voice to prompt submission of the Appropriation Bill.
He suggested the adoption of the American model by Nigeria, where the federal budget was presented and discussed with a wide range of groups was for about two years.
“This idea of inclusiveness should not only involve members of the National Assembly who perform oversight on the federal budget.
“But it also include civil society groups, leaders from the private sector; everyone in fact must be allowed to contribute at every stage in the process of budget preparation, passage, implementation and amendment stages.
“Indeed it will be helpful if immediately we get hold of the budget,we hold public hearings for business leaders, Non-Governmental Organisations, public servants, workers, farmers and the general public,” he said. (NAN)