The Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Tuesday called for early passage of the 2016 Appropriation Bill to ensure its timely implementation.
Dogara made the appeal while welcoming lawmakers from the Christmas and New Year break at the resumption of plenary.
“Crucial duties beckon as we resume; the 2016 Appropriation Bill deserves expeditious consideration on our part so as to facilitate early commencement of its implementation.
“Besides, you are very much aware we had introduced an unprecedented number of Bills with 130 Bills introduced in one day into the legislative mill.
“I am on record to have promised to ensure that we pass these bills within the first quarter of this year. We must therefore brace up for the hectic task ahead.
“At our last sitting of 2015, I had stated that a well crafted budget is in vain without efficient and diligent implementation,’’ he said.
According to Dogara, it means then that we must not only do our part by giving Nigerians a budget that meets the new vision, spirit and aspirations, but be determined through the instrumentality of oversight.
He said that would also enable them to hold the Executive Arm accountable for a full and efficient budget implementation.
The Speaker also said that there was the urgent need to address unemployment situation in the country, since job creation was one of the fundamental policies of the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.
He expressed concern over the large number of Nigerians, especially construction workers that had been without salaries for months, while others had in fact, been laid off from their jobs.
He said that the situation resulted on account of the inability of many construction firms executing government contracts to continue with existing contracts owing to non-payment for jobs executed.
According to him, since job creation is one of the fundamental policies of the APC administration, we cannot treat job losses lightly.
“As true representatives of the people, we owe it a duty to make haste and whether we make haste slowly or we slowly make haste, we must hasten those long nights of despair into a glorious morning.
“For our citizens who hope to go back to work as soon as government pays the firms they were working for, we must therefore pass the 2016 budget.
“This includes Mr President’s proposals on job creation, early to restore confidence in existing obligations and the economy generally.
“I have no doubt honourable colleagues that we shall rise in unity as has been the tradition of this honourable House, to surmount these challenges without any display of partisanship,’’ he said.
Dogara also said that crashing price of crude oil in the international market and the concomitant impact on the country’s economy was a sad reminder of ‘’our collective failure over the years to diversify the economy’’.
“It is a wake-up call for working the talk on diversification which has been our rhetoric for decades and we have no excuse for letting this opportunity slip by again.
“I believe dear colleagues, that this realisation will shape our views and decisions as we consider the 2016 Appropriation Bill.
“In order to ensure an orderly and predictable budgeting system in Nigeria, it may be necessary to introduce some constitutional amendments.
“Specifically, Section 81(1) may be amended to read that ‘The President shall cause to be prepared and laid before each House of the National Assembly not later than ninety days before the end of the financial year,’’ he said.
He said that submitting a budget at least three months before the end of a financial year, was consistent with international best practices and allows the parliament enough time to scrutinise and pass the budget early. (NAN)

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