Omission Of Health Sector’s N186bn Stalls Senate Consideration Of Revised Budget
The Senate on Tuesday stepped down consideration of the N10.509trillion revised 2020 budget forwarded to it for consideration by President Muhamnadu Buhari due to omission of N186billion proposed for the health sector.
The upper legislative chamber had given expeditious consideration of the revised 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper ( FSP).
The revised 2020 budget was expected to be passed by the Senate on Tuesday before it was jettisoned during plenary.
Trouble for the revised budget evolved when, as listed on the Order Paper, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, called on the Chairman of the Appropriation Committee, Jibrin Barau ( APC Kano North), to lay the report .
Senator Barau also stunned the Senate by informing his colleagues that refusal of the Budget office to capture the entire N500billion intervention fund for COVID-19 in the appropriation bill .
Also, he said while N314billion was captured as part of the intervention fund, the balance of N186billion proposed for health sector, was not captured.
Barau said: “Upon making such observation at committee level, we quickly informed the budget office of the omission last week .
“Though the budget office as part of excuses given for the omission said since the entire N500billion was captured in the MTEF/ FSP documents already passed by the Senate , that there was no need for it to be fully captured in the budget .
” But we rejected that excuse in line with sections 80 and 81 of the 1999 Constitution which empowers the National Assembly to appropriate every single Kobo for the executive before spending .
“On the strength of our superior argument, the budget office admitted wrongness of the omission but promised to write a letter to us to be used as evidence of helping them to include it .
” But the expected letter never came till now , making us not to be ready for presentation of any report now .
“If by the end of today, the office still refuse to send the letter to us, we shall be left with no other alternative than to print out our report today based on proposals contained in the Appropriation bill for consideration in plenary tomorrow,” he said .
Angered by the development, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said: “The Senate hereby advise those responsible for the budget documents and expected letter to do the needful without further delay. They need to be meticulous and responsible.
“The National Assembly cannot be a destination where lack of efficiency on somebody’s job would be entertained.
“If we put figures without documents , they will accuse us of padding . We must have the documents printed today unfailingly, lay it tomorrow and give it final consideration on Thursday,” Lawan said