The National Assembly on Tuesday would pass the 2020 Appropriation Bill on November 28, 2019.
Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, said this when addressing journalists after the budget presentation by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Kalu stated that the lawmakers had the desire to reverse the budget calendar to January-December cycle.
Kalu said, “We are committed to realizing this switch from what it used to be to what it ought to be – January-December budget calendar. Luckily enough, the House has inaugurated all the standing committees. The House, in order, to achieve this objective of reversing the calendar will be suspending the plenary – not suspending the House – to enable us to go into our various committees to interact with the MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies. To achieve that, we have set up a road map.”
The House’ spokesman said while the appropriation bill was presented on Tuesday, the House would debate the general principles of the budget on Wednesday and Thursday, after which it would be passed for second reading and referred to the standing committees, also known as Sub-Committees on Appropriations.
The House would also adjourn plenary on Thursday till October 30, 2019, to allow the committees to hold budget defence sessions with Federal Government ministries, departments and agencies.
Kalu added that the leadership of the House would meet with the leaders of the standing committees at 7pm on Thursday to discuss the road map for timely passage of the budget.
The lawmakers also said the National Assembly would hold a public hearing on the budget between October 21 and 22, 2019.
Kalu said, “From Wednesday, the 30th of October to Tuesday, the 5th of November, 2019, we are going to have submission and defence of budget reports to the Committee on Appropriations. It is important to note here that the termination date for submission of budget and defence of the same budget will be on the 5th of November. After the 5th of November, we will not accept any submission or defence by any MDA.
“From Wednesday, the 6th of November to the 27th of November, 2019, we are going to have the collation and harmonisation of reports by the Appropriations Committee. It is our expectation – and we are working towards that with this road map we have set – that on the 28th of November, 2019, we will have the presentation of the report by the Committees on Appropriations to the Senate and the House. What it means is that our expectation is that we want to be done with this exercise on the 28 th of November, 2019. We will be done with the budget.
“Our idea is that from the beginning of December 2019, the budget is ready. You are aware that if we are able to achieve this by the first week of December or the last week of November, we will be on time to make sure that from January 2020, we will kick-start with our new budget of 2020. It is a great achievement.”
Reacting to the budget presentation, the Buhari Media Organisation said the budget would go a long way in ensuring that the country finally began implementing its national budget from the first day of the fiscal year.
In a statement by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju, and the Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, the BMO stated that the move was in line with Buhari administration’s goal of leaving the country better than it met it.
The statement said, “For far too long, Nigeria has had a budget cycle that runs contrary to what is obtainable in developed economies and other countries on a growth trajectory.”
According to the BMO, in line with his pledge to effect a quantum change in the polity, the President has proved what three predecessors failed to ensure normal budget cycle.
The group said, “He (Buhari) did not only dare to be different by sending the MTEF/FSP on time, but also in ensuring that the budgets of the country’s major government owned enterprises are captured in the national budget estimates.
“So, for the first time since the return of democracy, Nigeria is on the verge of having a budget cycle that not only aligns with the business cycle of many financial institutions and other large corporations, but will also provide a leeway for robust planning in the economy.”
The BMO noted that by announcing that emphasis would be on completion of ongoing projects rather than starting new ones, the President has shown his readiness to depart from previous trends where annual budgets focused on new projects.
The statement added, “Nigerians must have heard him also emphasizing government leveraging private sector spending through tax credit schemes, as well as ensuring a reduction in items that are considered as VATable.
“These, among others, show that this is indeed a budget on the philosophy of sustainable and inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity”, he added.