The Senate has expressed concern over the failure of government agencies to submit their 2017 budget proposal to the National Assembly in line with extant law.
Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah who drew the attention of his colleagues to the abnormality during plenary on Tuesday, said it is wrong for agencies to spend money that has not been appropriated by the legislature.
The Senate, lamented, that five months into the year, all 38 statutory agencies of the Federal Government were yet to submit their budget for the 2017 fiscal year.
It said the affected agencies continue to make huge extra budgetary expenditure.
The Red Chamber expressed shock that despite the fact that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government continues to lay claim to waging a war against corruption, agencies of the same government keep breaching the very basic rules of corruption.
Na’Allah told the Senate that he intends to bring the issue to the floor as a motion so that Senators will understand the implications and the need to assist the government to fight corruption.
“I deliberately decided that I will bring it on the floor, so that Senators will understand the implications,” Na’Allah said. “In our commitment to assist this government to fight corruption, we must stand on our feet that every spirit of our law must be obeyed by those holding public offices. I think that if you permit me I will like to come tomorrow by way of motion, so it can be debated on the Floor of the Senate.”
Na’Allah added that “The only approach this Senate can take to assist this government in fighting corruption, is to insist that gross abuse of power and misuse of power must be stopped by every government agency. The only way we can build our institutions is to radically address the issue of abuse of power and misuse of power. I think that if you give me permission, I will like to bring it tomorrow as a motion.”
Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, while ruling on the point of order, expressed displeasure over the failure by most government agencies to submit their 2017 budget proposals to the National Assembly for consideration and approval.
The Senate President condemned the practice where agencies of government spend money without statutory approval by the National Assembly and ruled that the issue be debated and resolution taken by the Senate on Wednesday.
Saraki said: “We are already in May. How can Parastatals be operating without any budget, especially in this time of the fight against corruption and ensuring that there is transparency in governance? We need to take this matter seriously because clearly these agencies are just flouting the guidelines and breaking the law.
“This is a very serious issue because as we all know, in line with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, these budgets are meant to have been submitted to the National Assembly since August 2016.
“They are supposed to have come with the Appropriation document. We have now passed the 2017 budget without the budgets of the parastatals. I think this matter really needs to come up as a motion because this is a very serious matter. We need to debate it,” he said.
Saraki added: “Leader, this is a very important issue and we must debate it tomorrow and if there is any Committee in exception or that have received from agencies they oversight, then they will have the opportunity to at least clear the Parastatals and Agencies, that have sent their budgets.
“But if as at middle of May, we are saying we have not received any budget from them, then which money are they spending and with what authority? We need to look into that and take a decision that may be they can only pay salaries until they bring their budgets here and approvals given.
“I think once and for all, we need to address this issue and put an end to this disregard for laws and areas of corrupt practices,” the Senate President said.
The Red Chamber made it clear that in working with the executive arm of government to fight against corrupt practices, it would not tolerate practices by public officers that undermine the essence of the anti-graft crusade.
Saraki noted that the flagrance disrespect of existing laws guiding expenditure by those agencies, weakens the fight against corruption.
Among those agencies which are supposed to submit their budget proposals for approval of the National Assembly are the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASEI), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
Others are the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), National Maritime Authority (NMA), Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Nigerian Postal Service (NPS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
The list also include the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), National Communications Commission (NCC), National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
Others are National Insurance Commission (NIC), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Nigerian Copyrights Commission (NCC), Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Radio Nigeria, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB), Federal Mortgage Bank, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), as well as Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGZFA).
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