The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, on Thursday met with the leaders of some key committees of the National Assembly to get their input for the revised 2020 budget.
The budget is still being put together by the executive arm of government.
The minister, who was accompanied by the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr Ben Akabueze, said the interactive session was a continuation of the process she had started with the leadership of the two chambers of the nation’s parliament on the proposed fiscal document.
She spoke shortly before the meeting was held behind closed doors.
Ahmed said, “We are here today as part of another consultative process just to take input from the leadership of the National Assembly regarding the work that we are doing in the process of amending the MTEF 2020-2022 and the 2020 budget.
“The outcome of this meeting will form an input into the work that we are doing, which will subsequently be confirmed by the National Assembly.”
Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Barau Jibrin, said the consultation was to ensure a rancour-free deliberation during the budget defence session.
He said, “Now that the bill to amend the 2020 budget has been submitted to the National Assembly, we decided to strengthen the collaboration of consistent engagement with the executive arm of government so that by the time we go into the full activity of processing the bill, we would not have any major disagreement.”
Similarly, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Solomon Adeola, who also said the revised budget had been submitted by the executive, however noted that it was still work in progress.
Adeola, said, “The consultation is work in progress until the document is laid in the National Assembly which we hoped in no distance future would be unfolded and we would have the full grasp of what is contained in the document. It is until then we can make any major pronouncement concerning the MTEF/FSP and the revised 2020 Appropriation Act.”
The other committee chairmen in attendance apart from Jibrin and Adeola are Bassey Akpan (Petroleum Resources upstream), Olubunmi Adetunmbi (National Planning) and Clifford Ordia, ( Local and Foreign Debts).
Their counterparts in the House of Representatives also attended the meeting.
The National Assembly has by the development is said to have breached its legislative procedure by commencing deliberation on a document that had not been formally laid before both chambers.
Our correspondent noted that the presiding officers of both chambers would read the communication, (a covering letter that accompanied the revised budget) and then debate its general principles.
The budget document will then be mass-produced and distributed to each of the lawmakers before the various committees would start work on it.
The Senate spokesperson, Ajibola Basiru, said on Thursday that he was not aware that the 2020 Appropriation Act amendment bill had been received from the executive arm of government.
Basiru stated this while reacting to enquiries about the reported submission of the budget to the federal parliament.
He said, “I’m not aware that the reviewed 2020 has been submitted. The procedure is that when received, the communication will be read at the plenary of the Senate.”