Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has promised that the 2019 budget will be passed when plenary resumes on Tuesday, April 2.
He, however, made it clear that the National Assembly would not rubber stamp the N8.83trn 2019 budget saying, “We hope to pass the appropriation bill as soon as we reconvene plenary”.
Dogara stated this in Abuja, during the third public hearing on the national budget.
The Speaker, who blamed the delay in passing the budget to late submission of the money bill by the executive arm of government, expressed regret that previous budgets had not scored up to 45 per cent performance.
He commended Ministries, Departments and Agencies that had so far showed up for their budget defence, even as he urged those yet to do so, “to hasten up to ensure expeditious approval of the budget upon resumption by next week”.
Dogara further explained that by constitutional design, the president’s role in drafting the budget estimates could not be assailed, but the “power of the purse” was the function of the legislature.
He said, “That includes the fact that expenditure can only be made in consequence of express legislative authorisation and the authority to create and collect taxes, borrow or raise money through loans when the need arises.
“Over the years, the main problem with our budget as submitted by the executive is that it does not reflect national values and priorities.
“The budget, more often than not, only reflects the values and priorities of those who help the President in drafting it. The integrity of the project selection process has always been the bane of our national budgets.
“I regret to say that until we eliminate these problems, we will always have non implementable national budgets which cannot be relied upon by policy makers in establishing spending priorities.
“It is very painful that for some years now, our budget process has been an exercise in either or a combination of audacious optimism and/or hypocrisy involving key actors, putting together a budget that they fully know will at best be implemented up to 45 per cent.
“This by all standards is below average. How many of us will be proud of a child who consistently performs below average in his exams? How many of us here are proud of our below average budget performance all these years?
“Our below average budget performance is the main reason why Nigeria has remained a major promise as our national potential cannot be released without effective budget planning and execution.”