By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said on Tuesday that only this October is set aside for all government agencies to defend their 2020 budget estimates to enable the passage of the document in December.
In his remarks during the presentation of the 2020 budget by President Muhammadu Buhari, Lawan said the National Assembly committees are ready to receive the ministers and other heads of government agencies for the defence of their budget estimates.
Lawan said all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are expected to appear before the Committees for the defence of their Budget estimates within the month of October in order for timely passage of the budget.
“We have earmarked the month of October to be the sole window for all Budget defense activities in this year, by all MDAs.
“In this regard, our Committees will be expected to conclude their work on Budget defense within October, this year.
“The subsequent necessary legislative work will be carried out in November and December, leading to eventual passage before the end of this year,” Lawan said.
The Senate President said the 9th National Assembly has shown capacity, commitment and willingness to treat legislative matters that will impact on the lives of the citizens with dispatch and every sense of urgency.
This, he said, was clearly demonstrated last week, when the Assembly received, processed and passed the request of Mr. President on the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP).
Lawan gave assurance that the National Assembly will treat the 2020 Budget Estimates with the same commitment or even more.
“In our effort to pass the Budget, we will also be guided by the legislative requirement of a thorough scrutiny,” Lawan said.
Lawan however warned that the budget estimates “will remain what they are, estimates, until we are able to generate and receive the necessary revenues to fund and foot the bills.
“It is imperative therefore, that our revenue generating agencies be more alive to their responsibilities, more innovative and focused on how to meet their revenue targets.”
Lawan said the National Assembly will continue to review how the revenue generation, collection and remittance would be more effective and efficient.
Against this backdrop, Lawan said there is need to review the laws establishing the agencies responsible with a view to enhancing their capacity and capability.