The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has said too many errors and problems identified in the 2023 budget were responsible for delaying the passage of the Appropriation bill.
Newsonline reports that Ahmad Lawan said the which ought to be passed yesterday (Thursday) has been shifted to ensure the errors and gray areas are reconciled.
Lawan gave the explanation at the commencement of the plenary on Thursday against the backdrop of an earlier announcement that the Bill would be passed before the chamber adjourned for Christmas recess on Thursday.
He told his colleagues during the session, “Today (Thursday) was scheduled for us to receive and consider the report of our committee on Appropriation for the 2023 Appropriation Bill.
“However, due to some challenges, we are not able to receive the report of the committee, and the main reason is that the Appropriation Bill came to the National Assembly with some problems and when our committees on appropriation in the Senate and the House of Representatives started to reconcile the figures of what we have done and what was presented, the problems became very obvious and they were not easy to deal with, and therefore our committees had to start a process of cleaning up the Bill first.
“That process, of course, also engaged the executive arm because the problems came from there. It was concluded only yesterday, and our committee secretariats are not able to finish processing the budget for us to take today nor tomorrow nor Saturday nor Sunday because these are periods that are for festivities, Christmas period. Monday, Tuesday are public holidays.
“Consequently, we can only receive the report and consider it on Wednesday, the 28th December, 2022. That is the earliest, that’s next week.”
Lawan added, “So far, this ninth National Assembly has done so much to pass the previous appropriation Bills since 2019, before the end of the year to date and I’m sure that this would remain one of the cherished legacies of the ninth National Assembly.
“So by the Grace of God, on the 28th of this month, the senate and indeed the House of Representatives will all come back to receive and consider the budget report from our committees.
“Secondly, our committee on Finance is this morning holding a public hearing on the Finance Bill 2022, and of course the finance Bill is the basis on which the Appropriation Bill 2023 is built.
“We had arranged yesterday that the finance committee will present a report of the Finance Bill Hearing at 2 pm today. That of course would not be possible. This is the reason: We also receive two communications yesterday (Wednesday)- Supplementary Budget 2022 and of course, Ways and Means.
So our committees on Appropriation, Finance, Water Resources, Agriculture and Works and Housing will be processing the Bills for today (Thursday).
“In that respect, the senate will adjourn immediately so that our committees start the action they are supposed to take and therefore those reports will also be available to us on 28th December when we will be here.
“And by the Grace of God, Wednesday the 28th December, 2022 will be a very heavily loaded day for us, but I’m sure we will be able to deal with all the issues that Wednesday and our colleagues who would wish to travel back to continue the festivities with their families can still make it the following day.
“I want to thank all of you my Distinguished colleagues for your support, cooperation, commitment, dedication on all these things that we have been doing as a legislature.
The senate president called on the Executive arm to make work easy for the National Assembly by making themselves available whenever called to explain items in the budget.
Lawan said delay by the members of the executive arm who summed up the items that make up the budget will affect the time the legislature has slated to work on the bill for passage.
He called for collaboration between the ministers, MDAs and agencies with the committees from the Nationa Assembly to ensure gray areas are cleared.
“Let me advise the Executive. The Bills that have come to us, the Ways and Means, the Supplementary Appropriation, whoever is invited to come and explain, give information or any details for the National Assembly to understand must do so, because it’s not our work alone.
“We want to do our work thoroughly, we want to understand whatever we are going to deal with and to base our decisions on information, and time is of essence.
“Just like we are going to sacrifice part of our festive period to be back here, nobody should tell us that they are in their places because it is Christmas. They should be available with every necessary information,” Lawan added.