By Henry Umoru
The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan has announced that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies must be present and appear to defend their budgets proposals latest Oct 29.
Lawan said this, following the second reading of the 2020 Appropriation Bill as it was immediately referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriations for further legislative inputs.
The senate also mandated the committee to report back to plenary in two weeks time.
Lawan who noted that the window for budget defence for MDA’s would end by Oct 29, said that any MDA that fails to appear before the said date should forget about the budget defence.
He also advised the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC), Nigeria Communication Commission, NCC, the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, others to present their budget proposals same time with the present ones and be scrutinized this month.
According to him, failure to present the budget would amount to the non-provision of funds for them to spend for the 2020 fiscal year, just as he stressed that the Senate would no longer tolerate MDAs who spend funds without appropriation.
The President of the Senate who said that all MDAs must defend their budget before end of October, said that the Senate had put November 5, as timeline for it to conclude matters relating to budget defence.
He urged all the Committee to work closely with the Appropriations committee to meet the set date, adding that it was time for National Assembly members to show that it could pass the budget before the end of the year.
Lawan who noted that revenue generation was a major issue in implementing the nation’s budget over the years, said that the Senate would continue to engage revenue generating agencies on their activities in revenue generation, adding that the agencies must periodically update the senate on their revenue generating activities.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has forwarded to the Senate, the Finance Bill 2019 for consideration and subsequent passage.
In a letter to the Senate through the President of the Senate, Buhari said that the bill seeks to enact fiscal measures supporting the 2020 budget is in pursuant to section 58 and 59 of the 1999 constitution as amended.
The Finance bill 2019 proposes incremental, but necessary changes to Nigeria taxes and fiscal laws to ensure optimal funding of 2020 budget.
According to Buhari, the finance bill has five strategic objectives to include, promotion of fiscal equity by mitigating instances of regressive taxation and reforming domestic tax laws to align with global best practice.
He said that the bill was designed to introduce the tax incentives for investments in infrastructure and capital markets.
The President said that the bill would also help support micro, small and medium size businesses in line with the ease of doing business reforms and raising revenues for government.
According to him, the finance bill proposes an increase in the Value added Tax (VAT) rate from 5 per cent to 7.5 per cent.
He expressed belief that the bill would receive expeditious passage of the Senate.