Senate, yesterday, gave the revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government a one-week ultimatum to submit details of their 2018 budget proposals for consideration or face severe sanctions from the chamber.
The ultimatum followed a point of order raised by the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, in which he drew the attention of the Senate to the fact that out of 64 agencies, only the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) had complied by submitting its fiscal estimates to the chamber as required.
His words: “Mr. President submitted the national budget as well as the summary of the budgets of the agencies and, by so doing, he has completed his work. What is required of the agencies is for them to present the details of their budgets to the National Assembly for consideration.
“My office has been working closely with the Office of the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang and we have insisted that the details of the budget must be presented to the Senate.
“This is necessary so that it would be considered alongside the 2018 budget and be passed as quickly as it can and together. I want this Senate to recognise that only the NCC presented and submitted what is required.
“I want this Senate to give an ultimatum of one week to all the agencies to submit the details of their budget to our committees to consider for appropriation.”
Responding to Lawan’s submission, President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, accused the MDAs of disregarding due process by failing to submit details of their budget proposals to the parliament for approval.
He lamented that the agencies were taking the leniency of the Senate for granted or weakness, threatening that the Chamber might be compelled to invoke its constitutional powers; including asking the Ministry of Finance to stop further releases to the defaulting government establishments.
“This has been a matter we have been talking about for a very long time and these agencies continue to have total disregard for due process. I think it is very clear that the mandate we give to them is one week.
“Our cooperation should not be misread as weakness or not knowing what to do. Definitely, we can mandate the Ministry of Finance to ensure that they do not further order releases because they are breaking the law,” the senate President said.
Saraki cautioned that after the one-week deadline, the Red Chamber would be left with no other option than to punish the MDAs through withholding of funds.
“If after the one week and they don’t, then we will take necessary actions to show that they need to comply with the law,” Saraki said.