After months of buck-passing between the executive and the legislature, the presidency has admitted that some government agencies are yet to submit required details to lawmakers before the 2018 budget is passed.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in November 2017 presented the 2018 budget to the lawmakers. Five months later, it is yet to be passed with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and other officials saying it was now at the table of the lawmakers to pass the budget.
The lawmakers have, however, said the budget was being delayed because some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) were yet to appear before relevant national assembly committees to defend their proposals.
That stance of the lawmakers has now been buttressed by a message the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, sent to relevant public officials.
In the memo, dated March 19, the SGF said, “It has come to the attention of Government that a number of Agencies, Corporations and Government owned Companies have not fully complied with the provisions of Section 21 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) 2007.”
“Agencies are reminded that the FRA 2007 provides that consequent upon laying of summary of budget estimates of Agencies listed in the schedule to the FRA alongside the National Budget by Mr. President, it is required that details of such budgets are made available to the National Assembly for consideration and passage. This position was reiterated in the attached publication in the Nation Newspaper of Wednesday, February 7, 2018, by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (SSAP) on National Assembly Matters (Senate).”
Mr. Mustapha added that President Buhari “has directed:
(i) That Agencies, Corporations and Government owned Companies in the schedule to the FRA 2007 should comply with the provisions of the law;
(ii) All submissions (109 copies to the Senate and 360 copies to the House) should be made available to the appropriate Committees of the National Assembly. Copies should also be made available to the SSAP on National Assembly Matters (Senate and House respectively), not later than Friday, 23rd March, 2018; and
(iii) All Agencies, Corporations and Government Owned Companies should honour invitations to defend their estimates timeously.”
He added that “Supervising Ministers [of the MDAs] are enjoined to ensure timely compliance with the content of this Circular.”
Mr. Mustapha’s memo comes days after Mr. Buhari met with National Assembly leaders including Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara. The budget was one of the key issues discussed at the meeting.