The Senate has pushed the passage of the 2018 budget to March next year. The move throws a spanner in the government’s bid to regularize the budget process. President Muhammadu Buhari had last month presented the 2018 budget to the National Assembly.
Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo had while signing the 2017 budget into law, had promised that the 2018 budget would be passed before the end of the year.
Why has the Senate taken this step ?
Senate President Bukola Saraki criticized members of the executive for their shoddy attitude by travelling at this time.
“Truly, it is very disheartening and disappointing because we know how much we have put into the budget process. How can anybody who is responsible travel at this period when the budget defence is ongoing?
Several Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are also yet to defend their budget.
The infamous budget padding scandal has also come up again in the Ministry of Power Works and Housing. In the budget proposals, the Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, PDP, Abia South-led Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, discovered that N120 million, N480 million and N288 million respectively, were budgeted for the purchase of utility vehicles by the ministry headed by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.
The Ministry also earmarked N100 million for transferring of files, despite provision for ICT services.
Implications of the Senate’s action
The late passage of the budget means the government will be unable to fulfill its promise of running a proper fiscal calendar. The House of Representatives may also toe the same line with the Senate.
Old habits die hard
The executive appears not to have learnt its lessons from previous budget proposals. One would expect that the various ministries would go through their budgets with an eagle eye before sending to the National Assembly.