SOKOTO State governor, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, and deputy president of the Senate, Sen. Ike Ekweremmadu yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order for a serious review of the budgetary process in the country. They made the call in Abuja at the Gallery Colloquium which marked the official unveiling of, an online news medium with the theme, ‘Budgeting as an Effective Tool for Socio-Economic Development.’ Speaking at the event, Tambuwal said that since 1999 the budget had generated a lot of tensions, adding that the main issue in the budgeting process was the respective powers of both the Executive and the Legislature. Tambuwal, who doubled as chairman of the occasion, said that it had become imperative that the nation reform the entire budgeting process. He noted that friction usually occur in executive-legislative relationship, especially on the issue of budgeting, stressing that the proposed budget reforms would make the budgeting system more transparent and all inclusive. The Sokoto State governor explained that in the advanced countries like the United States of America, it usually took two years
to prepare this most important fiscal policy document. Tambuwal stated that everyone must be allowed to participate in the budgetary process by allowing the collation of views from the public on the annual budgets. Also speaking on budget reforms, Dogara said that the Nigerian Constitution did not envisage that the legislature should be a rubber stamp on the annual budget. Dogara said a critical look should be taken at the operation of financial year to ensure that its 12 month period is fully completed before another budget implementation begins. He said “Nigeria’s budgeting system is closer to the model practiced in the United States of America, where Congress has authority to alter, increase, reduce or indeed introduce new budget items.” The speaker urged Buhari to make full disclosure on the national budget size and include all sources of revenue and expenditure of all government agencies including NNPC, CBN and others as an integral part of it. He also hinted that the House would set up a budget reform committee to ensure transparency and inclusiveness in the budgetary process and commended the president for attaching details of 2016 budget proposal to the budget. For his part, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu charged the presidency on timely submission of budget to the National Assembly to ensure proper scrutiny by the lawmakers as well as the public hearing. According to him, Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world that does not subject their budget to public hearing because of the late submission of budget to the National Assembly. Ekweremadu went on to state that “what we normally do is to invite the Chairmen and MDA’s to come and defend their budget, that does not amount to public hearing. “There is no bill that is more important than appropriation bill that should require public hearing but because it does not come on time, we find it very difficult to submit it to public hearing.” He promised that henceforth, the National Assembly would do everything possible to ensure that the appropriation bill is subjected to public hearing as well as properly interrogate the budget. Speaking further, the deputy Senate president appealed for a special provision in the constitution where it would be mandatory for the Presidency to submit the budget to the NASS within a specific period of time before the implementation. “If you check the Nigerian setting, the presidency may decide to present the budget to the National Assembly on the last day of the year and expect the budget to start implementation on the budget on the first day of January,” he said

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