As the National Assembly awaits the delivery of the 2020 Appropriation Bil hopefully by Monday, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has underscored the need to have a budget reform that will include a law on timeliness in budget passing.
Recall that federal lawmakers had in the past called for early tabling of the annual money bill to ensure its passage before year’s end for a return to the January to December budget circle. Lawan had expressed optimism on this, hoping the bill come in by month’s end.
On a visit to Katsina five weeks ago, the Senate President explained that the National Assembly was expecting the 2020 budget proposal from the executive by September and that the ninth assembly would deliberate on and pass it within two months.
Lawan maintained that the process would return Nigeria to the annual budget of January to December.
Earlier in July after a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari, Use an told journalists, who queried late appointment of ministers, noted that budgets were usually prepared by civil servants. He said if the 2020 budget was presented before the senate by September, it will be passed by the first or second week in December.
His words: “I think there is nothing to worry us deeply. The budget itself is normally prepared by civil servants – the permanent secretaries superintend and the directors will work most of the time.
“I believe that we are still on course and I believe both the executive and the legislature are on the same page on this, we desire and are prepared and determined to pass the budget by the first or second week of December by the grace of God, provided it is presented to us by the end of September.”
But Thursday night, Lawan Said, “We can reform our budget cycle if there is a law on timeliness for budget passing,” Lawan said late Thursday in Abuja.
Lawan spoke on “Reforming the Budget Cycle: A First Step in Our Journey to the Next Level” at the “Government Meets Business Dinner” of the Institute of Directors Annual Conference, according to a statement by his chief spokesman, Mr. Ola Awoniyi.
Lawan said timeliness and deadlines will give leaders focus and make more definite on deliverables.
Reports, according to the Senate President, have shown that countries like the United States of America, Canada, Austria, Brazil, France and India have more definite budget cycles through legislation.
“We have resolved to be reform minded in the ninth National Assembly and improving the budget cycle is one area of focus.
“Our attention will be on the areas where enhancements are needed and we are surely not going to look away from them in the interest of national growth, development and wellbeing of our people,” Lawan said.
The Senate President said it is also important to improve on database showing the social economic conditions of the country.
He stated that a database would be more helpful for the appreciation of financial projections notwithstanding the current efforts by the National Bureau of Statistics and some multilateral agencies showing the sectoral performances of the economy.
The Senate President called for the amendment of the Public Procurement Act 2007 adding that “we are of the firm belief that the Act has not provided the intended efficacy it should produce.”
“Related to this is the need to match budget projections with fund release if accountability is to be appreciable.
“Proper documentation of financial activities and reduced political Interventions in the budgetary process are additionally important steps to follow.
“We should try to reduce frivolous items on the recurrent expenditure list to increase our disposition to produce, ensure judicious expenditure process and to guarantee value-for-money,” Lawan said.