The House of Representatives on Thursday deferred passage of 2018 budget estimates for second reading over non-passage of the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).
The Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, who presided over the plenary session during debates said that there was no need to pass the budget for second reading when the MTEF documents had not been passed.
According to the Speaker, “MTEF has not been sorted out even if we adjourn today, there is no legal basis for the committees to work. We will continue the debate on Tuesday (December 5) before we round up the budget”.
Most of the contributors to the 2018 budget advised that the House committees must ensure that in scrutinizing the budget, it must be placed side by side with the 2017 budget for proper analysis.
The Deputy Chief Whip, Honourable Pally Iriase, in his contribution to the debate “this budget comes on the heels of 2017 which has witnessed the quite abysmally low performance. There is no doubt about that. The reason for this is not far-fetched. Whatever that was in 2017 that was not carried out would be rolled in full into 2018”.
He then said that the committee’s chairmen would do well to put 2017 budget side-by-side with 2018 budget during budget defence, stressing that, “we must as a House consider this very seriously. If we do this, it will help to curb the spate of abandoned projects and help the lives of our people for the better.”
Honourable Lawal Abubakar in his contribution said that there was need to block all revenue leakages in the system to achieve government spending during the budget year.
The Chairman, House Committee on Public Petition, Honourable Uzoma Abonta, while contributing said that, “I have looked at the budget, the more I look at the budget, I get more confused, if I look at the performance of the budget of 2017, I think that the House should do the needful.
“And the needful is that chairmen should put the figures in the budgets side-by-side. We owe Nigerians a duty to give us a realistic budget. We can only know the future if we look at the past very well.
“I pray that in the absence of necessary data to analyse the budget, we should therefore consign it to the committee for a critical surgical operation. We should not shy away from doing the needful. We should take the bull by the horn by tearing the envelope that accompanied this budget. We shouldn’t have a situation whereby we resort to borrowing to do 30 percent implementation of this budget”, he stated.
Meanwhile, the Chairman House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Honourable Abdulrasaq Namdas, has said that the major conflict between the executive and the legislature has always been the implementation of the budget.
He added that there is always pressure on the National Assembly to pass the budget, saying, each time that budget is presented to the National Assembly, pressure are on us from Nigerians to pass the budget.
The lawmaker further stated that the House would use the two-week break after the passage of the MTEF and budget for second reading on Tuesday to do proper oversight and budget defence.