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Published On: Wed, Oct 16th, 2019

MDAs risk zero budget after 2 weeks deadline, Senate threatens

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By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu

Senate has threatened zero budget allocation to federal government Agencies, Ministries and Departments (MDAs) if they fail to submit their budget details to the relevant senate committees within two weeks.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, gave this directive yesterday shortly after the red legislative chamber passed for second reading the 2020 appropriation Bill.
He reiterated that the senate will not be frustrated into not meeting with the December deadline for the passage of the appropriation document.
Speaking further, Lawan specifically asked Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), NDDC, and other such agencies to note that no money will be approved for them by the Senate in the budget if they fail to forward and defend their respective budget estimates to their supervising committees.
He said that senate will not accept situations where MDAs will be spending funds not approved by the senate, warning that such would be sanctioned by the parliament.
He said the senate had put Nov 5, as timeline for it to conclude matters relating to budget defence.
He urged all the committee to work closely with the appropriation committee to meet the set date.
He said that it was time for national assembly members to show that it could pass the budget before the end of the year.
Lawan, however, noted that revenue generation was a major issue in implementing the nation’s budget over the years, noting that the senate would continue to engage revenue generating agencies on their activities in revenue generation.
He said that the agencies must periodically update the senate on their revenue generating activities.
The senate also adjourned plenary till October 29 to enable the various standing committees to deal with the submissions and proposals sent to them by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the federal government.
In a related development, the lawmakers also yesterday passed the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Oil Bill with expected revenue projection of N1.5billion annually.
This was as the upper chamber has raised the penalty for defaulters of this law from N20million fine or one year imprisonment to N500million fine or an option of Five years imprisonment.
President Muhammadu Buhari had at the commencement of Tuesday’s plenary, transmitted a letter to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan requesting the Upper chamber to consider and pass the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts amendment bill 2019 for urgent assent.
The President’s letter coincided with the Senate consideration of the report of Senator Albert Akpan Bassey’s joint on upstream Petroleum Gas Finance and Judiciary, Human Rights and Justice Committee on the Bill for final passage.
In his remark on Buhari’s request, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has said,”The bill that is conveyed in this letter of communication from the President has already recieved very expeditious consideration.
“We finish with the second reading, our committee; the joint committee on petroleum respurces upstream, finance, judiciary and Gas have worked tirelessly and assiduously with the NNPC, Federal ministry of petroleum resources, with the DPR and of course that reflected the position of Government and we had an engagement yesterday which lasted from morning until about 8pm and we are taking the report of this committee this morning.
“This is to show how both the executive and the legislature are working in the same direction. So this is not belated it is only to show that we are working together. We have already engaged the executive arm of Government we will continue with what we have started the committee should take note of the communication as well.”
Recall that Senator Ifeanyi Ubah had on October 2,2019 brought to the consciousness his colleagues at plenary through a motion on the loss of a whooping sum of N7trillion to the nation’s economy through the multi-National oil companies on the non-review of Production Sharing Contracts by the Joint Ventures Companies ( JVC),
Senator Ubah who doubles as the Publisher of Authority Newspaper in the motion which was co – sponsored by 27 other Senators , informed the Senate that salient provisions of the contractual agreements between Nigeria and the affected oil firms , have not been adhered to , by parties concerned which according to him, had bled the nation’s economy to the tune of $21billion , equivalent of N7trillion.
Consequently , an amendment bill seeking for penalties against the fraud , was tabled and passed for first reading on the floor of the Senate on Thursday last week was sponsored by Senator Albert Akpan Bassey and Ifeanyi Ubah respectively.

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