Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, has explained why the National Assembly may not pass the 2018 budget by December as projected by the executive.
According to him, while the time frame for passage of the budget should not be a priority to the lawmakers, they should rather ensure that the budget is implementable, and that there is justice, fairness and equity in the distribution of projects.
Speaking to State House correspondents at the presidential villa on Tursday, Lawan noted that the 2017 budget took effect from June and it is not possible to complete its implementation in six months.
Advising the government not to terminate the budget prematurely, he said, “It depends on how it goes; you know we are supposed to be working on the same page, working for the same people of Nigeria and we will like to see the National Assembly working in tandem with the executive arm of government.
“These things will be determined by what the budget looks like- the estimates presented to us- because naturally we always try to do a very thorough job, a very patriotic job to ensure that the budget is implementable, to ensure there is equity, fairness and justice in the distribution of projects across the country.
“We will like to see that done but we shouldn’t just do that at all costs. We should be looking at the benefits that could accrue from doing that and whether it is possible to just do it at once or maybe reduce the period in two phases or even more.
“The 2017 budget took effect from June this year. If it is possible for us to complete the implementation of the budget in six months from June, so be it but that also requires that we implement the budget properly because these are projects that are supposed to bring development, relief and succour to Nigerians.
“If it is not possible, we shouldn’t force it on ourselves that we must terminate it. Regardless of what happens, we should look at the potential consequences of completing it in December or whether we need to extend it a little bit more into March for example, but these are issues that when we engage between ourselves; the executive and the legislature, we will be able to sort them out for the benefit of Nigerians”.
Asked if the Senate is satisfied with the implementation of the 2017 budget so far, he said, “We are still working to ensure that implementation of the 2017 budget continues. So far, it hasn’t been able to be implemented the way we thought it would. You remember that there are certain things that you don’t just get them to happen at once.
“Some processes must take place before you finally have projects kicking off. So, I believe that between now and when the 2017 budget circle will be completed, much would have been done and achieved”.