National Assembly Pledges Speedy Passage Of 2023 Budget

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President Buhari
  • Says Oil Thieves Sabotaging Nigeria’s Economy Treasonous
  • We’ll Review N20.51trn Budget Estimates – Reps

The leadership of the National Assembly has assured President Muhammadu Buhari that it will expedite action on the 2023 appropriation bill (budget) and ensure it is passed before the end of the year, in line with the tradition of the 9th Assembly.

The House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, gave the assurance in his remarks after the presentation of the 2023 budget to the joint session of the National Assembly by President Buhari.

Gbajabiamila, however, pointed out that the parliament will not, in the quest for timely passage, fail to do the due diligence expected of it by the Nigerian people.

“The reforms to the budget process initiated in the 9th Assembly have helped streamline the appropriations process and the oversight system. We have set a standard for others to match or answer for.  This is to the credit of all those who worked to achieve these outcomes, particularly the senators and honorable members.

“I have often said that a budget reflects priorities.  National security, healthcare, education, public infrastructure and human capital development are the priorities we have pursued in the 9th Assembly.

“Every Appropriation Act we have considered and passed has reflected these priorities to different degrees.  The 2023 Appropriation Act will be a budget of consolidation; our last, best opportunity to ensure that ongoing projects across the country are completed before the end of the administration.

“Of course, the government is a continuum, and it will fall to our successors in office to continue the development initiatives of this administration and see them to completion.

“However, though governance continues despite government changes, priorities may not remain the same.  As such, we must endeavour to see to it that the policies and projects we have prioritised are adequately funded and fully implemented as we continue to do the work we have been elected to do until the last moment of our tenure.”

Gbajabiamila also expressed concern about the House of Representatives over the reports of a massive decline in the volume of crude oil exports due primarily to theft and diversion by criminal elements.

He said those that engage in these activities are agents of economic sabotage determined to bring the country to its knees, stressing that their actions constitute treason against the nation requiring the full weight of the law against them.

“Nigerians no longer want to hear about crude oil theft. The question has now become what are we doing about it? Therefore we are urging a swift and systemic overhaul of the systems in place to protect the country’s oil and gas resources.

“Evidently, the arrangements in place are no longer adequate.  As such, there is an obvious need for improvements to stop the loss of income occasioned by this ongoing sabotage.

“This is especially so at this time when the conditions and circumstances of our national finances require significant borrowing to finance government operations, sustain investments in infrastructure and national security and improve the living conditions of the Nigerian people.

“It is noteworthy that Mr. President, the President of the Senate and my good self, without comparing notes dwelt extensively on this subject.  This underscores its importance and the imperative to act and act quickly,” Gbajabiamila said.

The speaker also reminded the heads of ministries, departments and agencies in the executive that the National Assembly expects thorough accounting for previous appropriations, disbursements and expenditures.

He said where such accounts are not forthcoming; the legislature will demand them and exercise the full authority of parliament to hold to account those who fail to provide the records we need to make informed decisions on the Appropriation Bill.

“This is a priority for us as we wind down and begin compiling our service records for history and as a guide to those who will continue from where we stop.

“Just as the 9th Assembly has reformed the appropriations process to ensure timely budget passage, we also intend to leave a legacy of transparency and accountability as a standard for the future.

“I thank President Muhammadu Buhari, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha; the Budget Office; Hon. Ministers and all those who contributed to drafting this Appropriation Bill.

“The National Assembly will build on your efforts to deliver an Appropriation Act that provides real solutions to national problems, unlocks economic potential, secures our country and brings a future we can all look forward to and be proud of,” Gbajabiamila added.

Briefing journalists after the budget presentation, Benjamin Kalu, spokesperson of the House said the parliament will review the entire budget estimates of N20.51 trillion presented by the executive.

President Buhari in his budget speech said the federal government is proposing a total expenditure of N20.51 trillion for the 2023 financial year, which includes N2.42 trillion spending by Government-Owned Enterprises.

This is above the earlier proposal of N19.76 trillion approved in the 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) submitted to the National Assembly.

Kalu while addressing journalists said the executive is at will to present what it feels is good for the nation but, it is the duty of the parliament to review what other arms of government submitted.

“Whatever they have presented, if it’s not in line with MTEF, we will look at it and if there are needs for any adjustments that will be taken care of at the committee level. We do not today that MTEF is different from the budget, we will find out why and find a way to fix it. It’s not the final document.

“The oil price, the House projected $73 per barrel, executive projected at $70. We will prune here and there to make sure that what comes will reflect realities that we can defend,” he stated.

 

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