Speaker Yakubu Dogara has chided the Executive led by President Muhammadu Buhari for constantly blaming the Legislature for delays in the passage of the country’s annual budgets.
In his opening address at the national budget hearing organised jointly by the Committees on Appropriations of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Dogara drew the attention of the Executive to late presentation its part.
He also lamented poor implementation of previous budgets and he stressed that the Parliament won’t “rubber stamp” budgets merely for the sake of early passage.
According to him, “the budget is the most important law that is passed yearly, consequently, no parliament anywhere in the world rushes it. Let me re-emphasize that this Parliament can never be a rubber stamp and neither are we prepared to surrender our constitutionally assigned rights of checks on the Executive. It is unfortunate, however, that many commentators always ignorantly accuse the National Assembly of delaying the Appropriations Bill as if we are meant to urgently rubber stamp whatever budget estimates that is submitted to us by the Executive. If we fail to scrutinize the budget proposals, it will not only amount to abdication of our constitutional responsibilities as legislators but a betrayal of the mandate of our constituents.
“Let me also add that it is very unfair for the Executive to consistently and repeatedly blame the National Assembly of delaying passage of the budget while failing to address the issue of late budget submission on its part. The Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, provides that the Appropriations Bill be submitted not later than September of the preceding year which will give the Parliament ample time to process the document and pass it in good time. Unfortunately, the 2019 Appropriations Bill was submitted on December 19, 2018, just 12 days to the end of the year and the earliest time an Appropriation Bill has ever been presented to the National Assembly in this dispensation was on November 7, 2017.”
Dogara however noted that in a bid to address the issue the National Assembly passed a Constitutional Amendment Bill which sought to compel the Executive to submit the Budget proposals to the National Assembly not later than 90 days to the end of the fiscal year and also to limit expenditure that can be incurred in the absence of the Appropriations Act from six (6) months to three (3) months.
Dogara added that: “In yet another effort to improve institutional capacity of the Parliament to process and pass budget expeditiously, the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO) establishment Bill was passed into law. It was closely modeled after the American Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Unfortunately, I regret to inform this gathering that these laudable efforts and initiatives were thwarted when the President withheld his assent to these two important Bills.
“Consequently, efforts to enact a Budget Process Bill which will spell out timelines for every activity concerning the budget is stalled because it would be ineffective to enact a law that will run contrary to Section 81(1) of the Constitution which allows the President to submit the Budget estimates, ‘at any time’ before the end of the financial year.”
The Speaker concluded by assuring that the National Assembly will endeavour to speedily pass the budget as he called on the heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to appear before relevant committees and urged the Executive to ‘to muster the will to honestly and diligently implement’ the budget when passed.
In his comments, the Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe) observed that the public hearing was crucial to inclusive and active participation in the process of passage of the 2019 budget.
Communications minister, Pantami hails ICT’s contribution to GDP
The Honourable Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has hailed ICT’s contribution GDP in the second quarter. In the report released by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the contribution of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) surpassed that of Oil and Gas in the second quarter of 2019.
The report, released on Tuesday 2nd September, 2019, observed that the country’s GDP grew by 1.94% (year-on-year) in real terms in the second quarter of 2019 compared to the second quarter of 2018, which recorded a growth of 1.50%. Furthermore, the non-oil sector contributed 91.18% to the nation’s GDP in the second quarter of 2019 as opposed to the 8.82% contributed to total real GP by the oil sector. Particularly, the ICT sector contributed 13.85% to total nominal GDP in the second quarter of 2019 which is much higher than the 11.22% contributed in the same period in 2018.
The Honourable Minister observed that the significant contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP is as a result of the concerted efforts of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, especially the manner in which the implementation of the administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is being pursued. These efforts, he said, led to a sustained focus on growing the non-oil sector of the economy, especially ICT and the results witnessed are testimonies of impact of these efforts.
The Honourable Minister reiterated the Communications Ministry’s commitment to the economic diversification efforts of the present administration and called on all stakeholders to support Mr President’s laudable initiatives aimed at taking Nigeria to the next level.
FMBN to provide affordable homes for Nigerian workers
The managing director and chief executive officer of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Arc. Ahmed Musa Dangiwa said the Bank is committed to providing affordable mortgages to drive home ownership among Nigerian workers.
Dangiwa was speaking when the Director-General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) Sir Joseph N. Ari and his team paid him a courtesy call in the bank’s headquarters in Abuja.
In a statement, Dangiwa said providing affordable mortgages to Nigerian workers is done through the National Housing Fund(NHF) Scheme into which Nigerian workers both in public and private sectors contribute 2.5% of their monthly income.
“Through the scheme, the bank has continued to provide affordable mortgage to Nigerian workers and construction finance for housing development. Our National Housing Fund (NHF) individual mortgage loan, granted at 6%, is the most affordable in the country” Dangiwa said.
In his response, the Director-General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) Sir Joseph N Ari, commended FMBN on the giant strides in reforming the bank under the present management.
Ari said the purpose of the visit was to provide a platform that the two organisations will work together for their mutual benefits.
He called on FMBN to arrange for a sensitisation workshop for the staff of ITF.
NURTW members protest Oluomo’s emergence as caretaker committee chair
Some members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Lagos State on Wednesday marched on the premises of the Lagos State House of Assembly in Alausa, Ikeja.
They protested the emergence of Musiliu Akinsanya aka MC Oluomo as the chairman of the caretaker committee of the union.
The protesters carried placards with inscriptions such as: ‘We say yes to union constitution, we want the government to save our soul in Lagos’, ‘We say no to Lagos NURTW, we say no to imposition’, ‘We say no to self-imposition as NURTW Lagos State chairman’, ‘We say no to thuggery in Lagos NURTW’, and others.
NURTW National President Alhaji Tajudeen Ibikunle Baruwa appointed MC Oluomo as the caretaker chairman, Lagos State chapter of the union.
It was gathered that Baruwa issued a statement on Tuesday dissolving the executive committee of the state chapter hitherto headed by Comrade Tajudeen Agbede, who is now Baruwa’s deputy, and replaced it with an 18- member caretaker committee led by MC Oluomo.
MC Oluomo, the chairman of Oshodi branch, Lagos chapter of the union, is one of those contesting for the Lagos State NURTW chairmanship.
Speaking during the protest, one of the leaders, the Chairman of Ojuwoye NURTW branch, Ademola Olanrewaju, alleged that MC Oluomo’s emergence would cause chaos.
“A meeting was held yesterday and after the meeting, it was decided that MC Oluomo should emerge as the chairman of the caretaker committee.
“Directly or indirectly, they are trying to impose him on us because there was fracas in Abuja and both parties were supposed to be dealt with, but MC Oluomo’s group was exonerated.
“What we are agitating for is that we don’t want MC’s government in Lagos State.
“Lagos State has given us the little it can in terms of empowerment, by giving us what to eat.”
At press time, no government official had addressed the protesters.
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