2020 Budget: Lawan bars senators from tinkering with estimates…Senate may pass Bill Thursday

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Senate President, Ahmed Lawan

Senators have been barred from tinkering with the 2020 A[ppropriation Bill presented to the joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The directive was said t have unsettled senators who could not influence the inclusion of projects in the budget.

This has constituted a set-back to the plan by senators to scale up their consitutuency projects for budgetary accommodation.

The move by Lawan , as learnt, was to avert padding.  But a Senator, who confirmed the directive to The Conclave.Ng, said his colleagues were not happy about the development.

According to him, “Lawan has bent too much backwards  to accommodate the interest of the Presidency.  He is pandering to the desires of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The implication is that his action could precipiate bad blood in the Senate.”

The barring of Senators from tinkering with the budget came amid the reactions generated by President Buhari’s comments that the National Assembly haad wasted over N1 trillion on consituency projects, as according to him, there was nothing to show for the huge exxpenditure over the last few years.

Meanwhile, the N10.33 trillion 2020 budget proposal  may be passed by the upper legislative chamber on Thursday.

This is with a view to bringing the budget cycle effective 2020 fiscal year to January to December from the current May to April and the passage will be coming less than two months after the budget estimate was presented by the President to a joint session of the National Assembly on October 8.

The Senate is currently working towards the realisation of the Thursday deadline for budget passage as its committee on Appropriation headed by Senator Barau Jibrin, is expected to present the budget report to the Senate at plenary tomorrow.

It was gathered on Sunday that the Appropriation committee even extended its meeting to the weekend so as to meet the deadline of presenting the committee’s budget report by Tuesday.

A ranking Senator from the South East and member of the committee who spoke anonymously with THISDAY stressed that Tuesday’s date for the submission of the committee’s report remains sacrosanct “and this informed why we had to meet this weekend to put the report together”.

He also said the committee will continue with the meeting on Monday and ensure proper collation and harmonisation of the budget reports submitted to it by the various committees of the Senate in the last one month.

The committee member further stressed that “don’t forget that shortly after the budget presentation by Mr President and general debate on the general principles of the bill as well as passage for second reading, the Appropriations committee met with Chairmen of the budget sub-committees on what was expected of them during budget defence sessions with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

“We also had a two-day public hearing on the bill where stakeholders including Ministers, workers, students, civil society organisations, among others, were opportune to have input into the budget estimaye after which the committee received reports of budget defence sessions with MDAs from the respective committees now culminating in the harmonisation of the reports which we are doing currently ahead of the presentation of the report by the committee on Tuesday”, the ranking Senator said.

According to him, the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, had also reminded the committee of the need to ensure that the budget report is ready for presentation at tomorrow’s plenary, “this we are really aware of and will ensure its realisation.”

It was further learnt that once the budget report is laid tomorrow at Senate plenary, the Appropriation bill after its consideration within two days will pass through third reading after clause by clause consideration by the Senate before final passage hopefully on Thursday.

With The Will report

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