Nigeria: ‘Problems’ in Buhari’s 2023 Budget Stalls Passage

Lawmakers cannot pass the budget because it “came with some problems” that were discovered by the National Assembly Committees on Appropriations.

The National Assembly has postponed the passage of the 2023 budget till next week due to ‘problems’ discovered in the budget.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, announced this at the start of the plenary on Thursday.

He said the lawmakers cannot pass the budget because it “came with some problems” that were discovered by the National Assembly Committees on Appropriations.

“The Appropriations Bill came to the National Assembly with some problems and when our Committees on Appropriations in the Senate and House of Representatives started to reconcile the figures of what has been done and what was presented.

“The problems became obvious and not easy to deal with and the Committees had to start a process of cleaning up the bill. That process engaged the Executive because the problem came from them. They (committees) only concluded that yesterday,” he explained.

Mr Lawan did not provide details of the kind of “problems” discovered in the budget.

He simply informed his colleagues that the committee secretariat was not able to finish processing the report. And that they cannot present it “today or tomorrow… nor Monday and Tuesday because of public holiday.”

“Consequently, we can only receive and consider the report on Wednesday 28, next week,” he said.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in October, presented the budget estimate of N20.5 trillion for the 2023 fiscal year.

During the budget defence sessions with Ministries, Departments and Agencies, some discrepancies like budget padding were recorded.

While Mr Lawan boasted that the ninth Assembly has done so much to pass the previous appropriations before the end of the year, he hoped that it would remain one of their cherished legacies.

More work

The Senate President also announced that the committee on finance will hold a public hearing on the Finance Bill on Thursday. The Finance Bill is the basis on which the budget is built.

“We had arranged that the committee will present its report on the finance bill hearing today. But that will not be possible,” he said. “We also received two communications from the Executive – supplementary budget and ways and means bill. The committee on finance and appropriations, water resources, works and housing will be processing the bills from today.”

The Senate thereafter suspended the plenary to allow the relevant committees to continue the legislative work on the reports.

Lawmakers are expected to reconvene after Christmas to consider and pass the 2023 budget and other necessary reports.

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