The Senate Wednesday said that the refusal of key government officials to honour its invitation for the consideration of templates contained in the 2018 budget is hampering its plan to pass the budget before the end of December 2017.

The upper chamber specifically named the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, and Controller General, Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, as some of those who failed to honour its invitation.

The Director, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Director, National Bureau of Statistics, were also listed to have refused to appear before its committee to provide information that would aid the Senate to pass the budget on time.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, raised the alarm at a news briefing yesterday in Abuja.

Abdullahi said that the Senate is disturbed by a situation where heads of ministries, departments and agencies are invited by the Senate in relation to the 2018 budget without the government official honouring the invitation.

He noted that the joint Senate committee on Appropriation, Finance and National Planning held a crucial meeting on Tuesday to consider the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) where some heads of key MDAs were invited to throw light on the MTEF.

He said that CBN governor, NNPC GMD, Customs Controller General, Director DPR and Director, National Bureau for Statistics who were duly invited failed to honour the invitation.

The Senate’s spoke person said that the zeal of the upper chamber to pass the budget before the end of the year was being constrained by the action of the key agency officials.

He said that some agency heads decided to send lowly placed officers who can not be held responsible for any resolution.

Insisting that it is important that the government top officials honour their invitation, Abdullahi said that dispatching lowly placed officers to stand in for them does not help matter.

He said that nothing could be more important than the annual budget of a country “but these people decided to stay away.

Asked whether the development would affect passage of the 2018 budget before the end of the year, Abdullahi said: “We are reporting back to the people of Nigeria the hurdle we are facing in the process of trying to meet the target. For me, I cannot give you any concrete commitment. What we are doing is to report back to the people.”

Meanwhile Joint Committee on Finance, Appropriation and National Planning and Economic Affairs laid the report of 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper for consideration and adoption.

The MTEF and FSP are the plant upon which the budget estimates are built.

Its adoption will pave the way for the consideration of the 2018 budget.

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