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Senate begins debate on N8.83trn 2019 budget tomorrow



Senate begins debate on N8.83trn 2019 budget tomorrow

Bukola Saraki

Almost three months after President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2019 Appropriation Bill before a joint session of the National Assembly, the Senate will today begin debate on general principles of the N8.83trillion 2019 budget estimates.

President Buhari had on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 laid the budget before the joint sitting of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, but since then, only the latter had earlier this year commenced debate on the financial plan for 2019 fiscal year.

But the Senate, at yesterday’s plenary resolved to begin debate on the budget estimate even as it postponed final consideration of the N30, 000 minimum wage to Tuesday next week on account of absence of the chairman of the ad- hoc committee, Senator Olusola Adeyeye (APC Osun Central), saddled with the responsibility.

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki made the announcement before ruling on a motion by the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe North) for suspension of the plenary in honour of Hon. Temitope Olatoye, representative of Lagelu/Oluyole Federal Constituency of Oyo State in the House of Representatives, who was assassinated in Ibadan on Saturday by yet to be identified gunmen.

Before ruling on the motion, Saraki announced to the Senators to get prepared for commencement of debate on general principles of the 2019 budget.

“The reading of the 2019 budget will commence on Wednesday and continue on Tuesday. So, Senators should register their names against the days they will want to debate the budget.

“Apart from the budget, I will also want the Ad-hoc committee on minimum wage to complete its work this week and submit report to the Senate on Tuesday next week unfailingly.

“In getting this done, since the chairman of the committee, Senator Olusola Adeyeye has travelled out, the Deputy Whip of the Senate, Senator Francis Alimekhena (APC, Edo North), should please take over the chairmanship of the committee and get the report submitted on Tuesday next week”, he said.

President Buhari had while presenting the budget to the federal legislature late last year, appealed for expeditious consideration and passage in returning the country back to January to December yearly budgetary circle for clear cut measurement and assessment of its implementation on quarterly basis.

“It is my hope that despite our current preoccupation with political activities, we can all commit to an early passage of this budget in the larger interest of our people and the national economy , particularly in returning the yearly budget circle to January to December for clear cut assessment and evaluation of its implementation on quarterly basis”, he said.

Similar appeal was also made by the President to the federal lawmakers on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, when he made presentation of N8.6trillion 2018 budget proposals to them which was later jerked up to N9.12trillion seven months after, precisely in May last year when it was eventually passed .

But three solid months down the line now, neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives, has passed the budget for second reading which will give room for defence sessions between the various standing committees at both chambers and heads of the various ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs.

As it is now, both the Senate and the House of Representatives have just five weeks left to consider, pass and transmit the Appropriation Bill for President for assent before expiration of his current tenure on May 28, 2019.

Specifically, the bill going by laid down procedures, must be transmitted to the President for assent latest by April 28 in giving room for 30 days duration for that purpose since the current tenure of the President ends on May 28.

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Senate begins debate on N8.83trn 2019 budget tomorrow

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