Adjourns plenary till Nov 9 for budget defence
The Senate yesterday summoned the seven Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) yet to defend their inputs into the N5.01trillion loan projected to finance the 2022 budget deficit. President Muhammadu Buhari recently presented a budget of N16.39 trillion to a joint session of the National Assembly. The budget has N6.26 trillion deficit, with the Federal Government saying it intends to borrow to finance the deficit. The Senate warned heads of the affected agencies to appear before the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts for engagement on the issue within one week or prepare to face sanctions. President of the Senate , Ahmad Lawan, announced this after the conclusion of debate on the general principles of the 2022 Appropriation Bill. The bill, which scaled second reading, has been moved to the committee level for further consideration.
Lawan listed the MDAs as the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Federal Ministry of Environment, Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Power, Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Federal Ministry of Women Affairs. According to him, the MDAs should defend the loan request before the final consideration of the budget. He said the MDAs failed to appear before the relevant committee, a situation he said was affecting the effort of the Federal Government to secure the needed loans to fund the infrastructure development. Lawan said though the National Assembly had already approved the loan requests, there was a need for more clarifications by the affected agencies .
“Therefore, we are giving them just one week to appear before the committee on local and foreign debts and if they fail to appear, we’ll take appropriate and prompt action because this Senate will not condone any sabotage to the effort of this administration,” he said.
During the debate on the general principles of the budget, many of the legislators were of the opinion that the N5.01trillion fresh loan must be utilized judiciously. They also stressed the need for government to look inwards and explore the possibility of generating more rev-enue through its agencies in order to fund the 2022 budget. Meanwhile, the Senate has adjourned plenary until the next one month to enable its committees meet with the MDAs on the budget proposals. The budget defence process, which commences on October 18, will last until November 9. In line with the plan, the Senate Committee on Appropriation directed to collaborate with all the other committees during the period and to present a report on it at the end of the exercise.