The leadership of House of Representatives on Thursday disclosed that the 30th March deadline set for the passage of the 2017 budget is no longer sacrosanct.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had on the 14th December, 2016 laid the N7.298 trillion budget proposal before the joint session of the National Assembly.
The components of the 2017 budget proposal being considered by the National Assembly include: N1.7 trillion for debt servicing; N419 billion for statutory transfers; N177 billion for sinking funds and maturity bonds; N2.98 trillion for recurrent expenditure and N2.06 trillion for capital expenditure.
Abdulrasak Namdas, chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs confirmed this during the weekly Legislative activities briefing held in Abuja.
He explained that consideration is also being giving to some of the develoomental projects approved during previous Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
“I want to talk on the budget 2017, that the house is doing all it takes to ensure that we try to meet with the timeline of 2017 Appropriation date earlier sscheduled. But we are not there, even the 30th of March just for the purposes of record, may not actually sacrosanct so to say because of the new development that arisen.
“For example, we have a new budget software, very new budget software that is very new from what we habe before. It’s a little slow down the budget process of the Appropriation committee down.
“Apart from that you, are aware that even the Federal Executive Council on a weekly basis is approving new projects for 2017 Appropriation. We will continue to do what is before us but if there’s need for some projects that are very viable, as representatives of the people, we will look at some of the approvals and see how we can accommodate them.
“However I will say we will do our very best to meet up with the 30th March, but in case we are able to do it, be assured that I’ve told you the date of 30th is not actually sacrosanct,” Namdas stressed.
Also during the Thursday plenary session, Speaker Yakubu Dogara issued a 24 hour ultimatum to all the chairmen of various Standing Committees to submit their reports to the House Committee on Appropriation.
“The speaker just mentioned at plenary and urged all the standing Committees to please submit their reports to the Appropriation committee tomorrow because it’s been realised that some of the committees have not submitted their reports to the Appropriation committee.
“So these are some of the issues that also affect the particular deadline, but I thinks from the discussions with my colleagues, chairmen of the standing committees, I’m hopeful that they will submit these reports tomorrow,” Namdas further clarified.
While speaking on the passage of the amendment of the Public Procurement Act, Namdas observed that the move was part of efforts to reduce timeline for approval of developmental projects for various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“Today we passed a very interesting bill to amend the public Procurement Act as informed by the Speaker, this is part of what we are doing to get Nigeria out of recession, by reducing the approvals are from four months downward.
“Since we have assured Nigerians that we will do our best to get this county out of recession, part of the system to do it is to work on the procurement Act to ensure that at least it does not take this kind of long time and just as the speaker also mentioned, it’s no longer the Minister of Finance that will appoint the Director General or the Chairman but the President,” he explained.