By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – THE Senate, Thursday said that by all indications and economic indicators available that the executive may not be able to implement more than 50 per cent of the 2017 budget, it would jerk the 2018 budget to N10 trillion.
Speaking Thursday in Abuja during the debate on the report of the implementation of the 2017 budget at plenary, Senate President Bukola Saraki said that since the executive may not implement more than 50 per cent of the 2017 budget, the 2018 budget might be more than N10 trillion.
He said: “If the implementation of the 2017 budget is going to be 50 per cent, it means we should expect to have a budget of N10 trillion in 2018. I hope the executive takes note of that.”
The Senate has also said that there was no pending loan request currently before it, saying that all requests from President Muhammadu Buhari were approved before the National Assembly embarked on its annual recess in July, adding that the claims by the minister were false and unfounded.
The position of the Senate yesterday countered the position of the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, over claims that the National Assembly was yet to approve President Buhari’s borrowing plans needed to fund capital projects in the 2017 budget.
Saraki said: “There is no request before us about borrowing we have not approved. We approved all the requests before we went on break. I needed to make this explanation because of what the Minister of Finance said that the National Assembly is holding on to borrowing requests sent by the executive.”
It would be recalled that the Finance Minister had had on Tuesday, while giving a report on the level of the implementation of the 2017 budget, before a joint committee of the Senate on Appropriations and Finance, claimed that the Federal Government cannot fund capital projects because the National Assembly was yet to approve borrowing plan requests from the President.
Chairman of the Senate committee on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje, had at the Tuesday event, countered her, just as he maintained that the Senate was not in possession of any loan request from the executive, but Adeosun had insisted and blamed the low pace of the implementation of the budget on the non-approval by the National Assembly.
The senate is also insisting that the implementation of 2017 budget must reach fifty percent completion before it would be rolled over to 2018 budget.
This is part of recommendations contained in the report of the committees on Appropriations and finance which recently invited the minister for Finance, Kemi Adeosun and her budget and National Planning Counterpart, Senator Udo Udoma to explain the level of implementation of the twenty seventeen budget.
Meanwhile, the Senate has accused some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government of failure to remit revenues into the Federation Account.
Presenting the report of the Committee, Senator Goje who did not meant ion names of the MDAs, said that the revenue leakages must be blocked and agencies involved sanctioned to guide against a repeat in the future.
At the end of the day, the Senate adopted the recommendations which stated among others that “necessary steps should be taken to ensure that the executive does not embark on selective implementation of the budget.
“The executive must ensure that they implement 50 per cent of the budget. The 2018 budget should be passed when brought to the National Assembly without any delay.
“There are revenue leakages of operating surpluses that agencies are not remitting to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CFR). We should encourage the executive that all MDAs should be properly captured and catered for in the budget. The executive should be encouraged to block all leakages in all its agencies.”
The Senate also charged the executive to ensure that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are properly captured in the Integrated Personnel Payroll And Information Systems (IPPIS) and also ensure that all employments are properly approved and budgeted for.
It also asked that the use of operating surplus of internally generated revenue of government owned enterprises like Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and others in funding the National Budget be properly explored, adding that the Executive should be encouraged to block all leakages of operational surpluses of MDAs.
Saraki, who presided, warned that the executive must ensure that the 2017 budget was implemented, said that the Executive must guide against selective implementation of the budget.
The Senate President said: “The executive must carry out the implementation of the budget in line with what is passed. They should not go about selective implementation of the budget. If they want to borrow, they should not hesitate to send their requests.