By Daniel Edu
Despite the delay by President Bola Tinubu to present the 2024 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly, federal lawmakers have promised to treat the document with urgency and ensure it beats the December 31 deadline.
The National Assembly also said that the January to December budget implementation cycle would be maintained.
The Senate specifically assured Nigerians that the budget cycle as amended by the ninth Assembly to run from January to December would not fail.
The ninth Assembly had in 2019 amended the 2020 Appropriation Bill, from the May-June cycle to January to December as the budget cycle.
Nigerians had at different times expressed worry over the delay in the presentation of the 2024 budget.
Some experts further feared that President Bola Tinubu might not be able to meet the December deadline for the budget presentation.
Sources in the Presidency had said that Tinubu was expected to present the 2024 Appropriation Bill to a joint session of the National Assembly in the third week of November 2023.
They further assured that the President would present the document to lawmakers on November 20, 2023, and to, among other things, maintain the January-December budget implementation cycle.
Earlier, the Minister of Budget and National Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, had announced that the Federal Government had proposed N26tn for the 2024 budget.
He noted that the President was expected to submit the documents to the National Assembly before December 31, 2023.
Last year, the Federal Government had an executive proposal for a total expenditure of N20.51tn.
Responding to this, the Senate spokesperson, Yemi Adaramodu, “The National Assembly will treat the budget as soon as it comes. I know the President will present the budget in November and the job of the lawmakers starts the following day after the presentation.
“The budget will be passed in December. In two weeks, we would have to interact with and have the ministries, departments, and agencies defend their budget.
“It’s not something that will take forever since there are different committees for each MDA and most committees sit concurrently. So, we can’t have any delay; The January to December cycle remains as it is.”
The Senate spokesman explained that the presentation of the 2024-2026 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper was not in any way delaying the budget presentation.
“The MTEF will be presented at the plenary next week Tuesday; it is a document in preparation for the budget, but it doesn’t in any way delay the budget.
“What we do during the MTEF is to get MDAs to come and give a clear insight on how they intend to achieve the budget particularly as it relates to revenue generation.”
Similarly, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Solomon Adeola, promised that irrespective of the lateness in the submission of the 2024 budget, the Senate would do a thorough job.
Senator Adeola added, “I assure you that we won’t break the tradition, we will have the budget as at when due. We will keep to the tradition of the January to December budget cycle.”
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has expressed its readiness to treat the 2024-2025 Appropriation Bill being expected from President Tinubu with the urgency it deserves.
The House’s spokesman and Chairman of the Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Akin Rotimi, said, “We are not in a position to speak for the executive but I can confirm to you that we have not received it (the budget proposal). We are prepared, ready to work on it in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“What is important now is for us to get it (the budget proposal). Once we get it, we will begin work on it. This is all I can say for now.”