Senate extends operation of 2023 Budget till June

The 2023 Appropriation Act will be in operation till June 30, as the Senate Wednesday re-enacted the Supplementary Appropriation Act 2023, to extend its implementation by six months. 

This is sequel to President Bola Tinubu’s request in a letter read by President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio at plenary on Wednesday.

Tinubu, in the letter titled: “Transmission of Appropriation Amendment Bill 2024 and Supplementary Appropriation Amendment Bill 2024 for Consideration” said the request was pursuant to provisions of section 58 (2) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.

Tinubu said : “I forward herewith, the Appropriation Amendment Bill 2024 for the kind consideration of the senate.

“The appropriation amendment bill 2024, seeks to amend the appropriation act 2023 to further extend the time for implementing the capital expenditure of the appropriation act 2023, from March 31, to June 30.

“While the Supplementary Appropriation Act 2024 seeks to amend the Supplementary Appropriation Act 2023 to extend its implementation period from March 31, to June 30.”

Tinubu said the request for extensions was to ensure exhaustive implementation of the appropriation act.

The request of President Tinubu resulted in a debate, as senators hinged their contributions on provisions of the 1999 constitution as amended.

Sen. Ali Ndume (APC-Borno), said the Clerk of the senate was in a better position to properly advise the legislators on the President’s request.

“It is better we do what we are trying to do in a way that we will not have constitutional complications.

“This is a supplementary bill, it can be the same document as the 2024 supplementary act, so that it can be applied.

“This a supplementary budget, the senate leader can present it as a bill for 2024.”

The Deputy President of Senate, Barau Jibrin, (APC-Kano) said: “We are the ruling party, the President is ours. We must defend him by doing what is normal, what is in line with the procedure and practice of the legislature.”

He added that the letter sent by President Tinubu had solved the problem.

“What we need to do now is to re-enact that expired act. It is stated in the constitution that any appropriation bill or supplementary bill must be submitted to the National Assembly before we act on it.

“We can’t do it here, other bills can emanate from here, not appropriation bill, it must emanate from the presidency and he has done so.”

However, Sen. Ibrahim Dankwabo (PDP -Gombe) and former accountant general of the federation, also advised the senate to ensure that its action, should not be in conflict with the constitution.

He said the constitution stipulated that by June, the nation’s financial account of the preceding year should have been audited and reviewed by the Public Accounts Committee.

“You extended implementation to March, you still meet the constitutional 90 days but if you extend it to June, that means you will not submit the account until September, which contravenes the provision of the constitution.

“Secondly, you cannot extend the current, you can’t because you have already closed the book of accounts and provided for opening balance,that is why you have opening balance.”

But Barau drew Dankwabo’s attention to provisions of section 81 (1) , (3, 4b) of the 1999 constitution, to argue that the President could send appropriation bill or supplementary appropriation bill to the two chambers of the National Assembly at any time as needed.

“What we are talking now is not an extension of that recurrent expenditure. It is a re-enactment, it is a new bill.”

After the debate, senate re-enacted the Supplementary Appropriation Act to extend the implementation period to June 31, having suspended its rule 78 (1) to read the bill for first, second and third, after a clause by clause consideration.

Barau, who presided at the time of the passage, thanked his colleagues, particularly the Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele for bringing the motion forward, though the request came from the President.

He said the bill was passed to ensure implementation of capital components of the 2023 Appropriation Act.

“There is no point passing a budget, which is geared toward the development of our country and the most important component, the capital is unimplemented.”

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