Worried by the perennial late passage of the annual federal budget by the National Assembly due to late submission of budget by the executive arm, the Senate has set a September deadline by which it expects President Goodluck Jonathan to present details of the 2013 Appropriation Bill for legislative scrutiny.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Ahmed Maccido, told journalists in Abuja Wednesday, that the National Assembly had concluded plans to establish its own budget office and go on tour of the six geo-political zones in October.
The tour, he said, was to allow Nigerians and stakeholders in the budgeting process to make input in the 2013 budget.
He said: “We are going to push the executive so much that the 2013 budget must get to us, the National Assembly, latest by September so that we work right through October, November and by December, the country gets a new budget. Three months, I believe, is enough for us to work on the budget and return it to the executive for assent. That is our plan for the 2013 budget and we do hope things would go according to plan.
“For 2013, Nigerians should be rest assured that at the committee level, we have made arrangements, to going from point A to point B, everyday, we would monitor monies that have been appropriated and make sure that they are being spent judiciously…
“There was been a lull in the sense that we came in and there was no provision for the programme in the 2011 budget. The inclusive budgeting process whereby the National Assembly, interacted with the public stopped with the sixth National Assembly but we intend to re-activate that soon.
“We have to start a new one altogether. In fact, we just got approval for that particular programme in the 2012 budget. By October, we will commence the process,” Maccido noted.
“We are going out by the first week of October, to bring together all stakeholders in Nigeria, where we will sit down, discuss and deliberate on their input. We will get their views on the 2012 budget and hear what they expect in the 2013 budget. We will start that by October,” he said.
Speaking against the backdrop of Senate President David Mark’s exhortation to senators to take oversight of the Executive seriously in 2012 in order to curb corruption in the system,
Maccido noted comity tanning committees are now committed to going on oversight of release of appropriated funds to the MDAs.
“We are going to monitor releases to MDAs, whether there is cash backing for those releases. We have a very weak constitution on oversight but this time around, we intend to be mu h more vigorous in that direction. Truly, there has been very ineffective oversight of the MDAs and all the Senate President is true; our inefficiency in oversight brings about corruption and ineptitude on the part of the Executive because we don’t report on them. It brings about so many ills,” Maccido said.