See why National Assembly fails to pass budget! 

The life span  of the 2016 budget  expires today but the Senate said, yesterday   the government could  continue to spend money up to June 30.

The budget was presented to the National Assembly on December 14 last year by President Muhammadu Buhari. 

By yesterday the National Assembly had missed three deadlines regarding the passage of the 2017 budget. 

The Senate Committee on Appropriation was billed to present its report on the budget at plenary yesterday, according to the order paper but it was stepped down at the last minute.

Our correspondents report that the passage of Fiscal document which was first scheduled for March, was postponed to April 25 and then to this week. 

The Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, who was at the Presidential Villa last Thursday, had  said the budget would be passed this week only to be stepped down after it was listed on the order paper. 

At yesterday’s plenary, Lawan moved that the presentation of the report be stepped down. 

He said committee chairman, Senator Goje and members of the appropriation committee were working to harmonise the report with their House counterparts. 

In his remark, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who presided over the plenary said there was no reason to worry.

“Let me also emphasise for the benefit of the public that we are minded to receive this report today. It was only this morning that it was necessary for us to be sure that we are on the same page with the House of Representatives to avoid any possible conferencing. 

“So what we like to see (is) the House and the Senate laying just the same documents so that once we pass we will now send the documents to the President for assent. 

“I think this is important that the point be made and the public knows that the harmonisation which is going on should be concluded over the weekend to enable us receive the budget report by Tuesday and by the grace of God have it passed by next week and we send it to the President for assent.

“Let me also inform the public as well that the tenure of the 2016 budget ends tomorrow the 5th because it was passed on the 5th of May 2016 but under the constitution the Federal government is entitled to continue to spend money based on the 2016 estimates up to the 30th of June, 2017.”

In an interview, the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah said the National Assembly was working to send the budget brief and details to the President at the same time. 

Na’Allah said the essence was to avoid the repeat of last year’s situation whereby there was controversy over budget details after the brief was submitted to the President. 

“Both the details and the brief of the budget would be presented to the President at the same time,” he said. 

Sources at the Budget ministry said with the expiration of the 2016 budget today, the federal government will commence the provisional implementation of the 2017 budget till June 30.

An official of the budget ministry who pleaded for anonymity said the expiration of the 2016 budget will not stop releases of fund on both the capital and overhead as the law allows for FG to spend up to 50 percent equivalent of the 2016 capital budget from the 2017 till end of the first half of the year which is June 30.

The official said there may be crisis if the National Assembly fails to pass the 2017 budget by June 30. 

However, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs Nana Fatima Mede, declined comment on the matter.

When contacted, the Special Assistant to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr. James Akpadem, said only the Minister could speak on the development.

He promised to get a response from the Minister but never did as at press time.