- As Lawan seeks implementation of Orosanya report to merge agencies
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Baba Adamu
Senate yesterday passed second reading the N13.08 trillion 2021 budget, even as the lawmakers reserved three weeks within which the Federal government ministries, agencies and department must appear before the lawmakers for budget defence or risk working with what the budget office has provided in the budget.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, while ruling on the debate by the lawmakers over the general principles and provisions of the 2021 budget, said the budget must be defended on or before the last week of November.
He said any MDA that fails to do so within the stipulated time will not have the opportunity to do so, adding that there is need for the federal government to continue to cut the recurrent expenditure to get to the level that both recurrent and calita will be at par.
Speaking further, Lawan said to achieve this, there is need for the government to reconsider the recommendations of the Steve Orosanya, part of which is that agencies with similar responsibilities should be merged to cut the high cost of governance.
Lawan, while pointing out that new agencies are not precluded from bring created, he said some of the agencies which have outlived its usefulness could be merged or scrapped to reduce the cost of governance.
He said also that some of the 2020 budget needed to be roled over to 2021, sequel to which the MDAs needed to be serious with the budget defence session, to enable the lawmakers at the committee levels to know how far most of the projects have been funded in the 2020, especially those that would be rolled over to next year.
“Let me emphasise that in the whole, the budget is aimed at consolidating on what we have achieved in the 2020 budget. We need to balance what we have today. We have over seven hundred of such agencies and Commission. Some of them were created to address some specific challenges at the time they were created, and now such challenges may no longer exists and it is therefore necessary to look at the possibility of getting some of them merged.
“That does not stop us from creating new ones, because the new agencies will address the specific challenges of today.
I want to urge the two Chambers of the National Assembly to work closely together to consider the details of the budget, especially at the defence level. I believe we can pass this budget like we did the other time.
“I urge the Committee of both Chambers to do more to ensure that we limit the time we spend on harmonization. I believe that with commitment, we can pass the budget before the Christmas break”.
Speaking further, Lawan recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had during a retreat he had with the lawmakers ordered the heads of government agencies and departments to appear in person to defend their budget, adding that this time around no Minister or head of agencies should assume that after the first week of November, they will still have time to come to defend their budget.
The 2021 Appropriations bill which passed the second reading on Thursday was referred by the Senate President to the Committee on Appropriations for further legislative work.
The Committee which is Chaired by Senator Jibrin Barau (APC – Kano North), was given four weeks to report back to the Senate.