FG writes National Assembly, seeks fresh 2020 budget review

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The Federal Government has written to the National Assembly to demand a fresh review of the 2020 Appropriation Act.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, particularly asked the House of Representatives to extend the expiration date of the capital component of the 2020 budget.

Based on the request by the Federal Government, the National Assembly had reviewed the 2020 budget due to the pandemic and crash in the global prices of crude oil.

Ahmed said the Federal Government now wants execution of capital projects in the Act, which were frustrated by the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, to continue beyond the expiration date of the fiscal year on December 31.

The National Assembly had returned the country to a January-December budget cycle with the 2020 Appropriation Act, making this year’s budget to expire on December 31, with the 2021 Appropriation Bill presently before the National Assembly expected to take effect from January 1.

The Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, read the minister’s letter in plenary on Tuesday.

Ahmed also cited difficulties in obtaining Certificates of No Objection from the Bureau for Public Procurement and the slowdown in implementation of capital projects by Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

She noted that extending the expiration date of the capital component of the budget would enable government to carry on with the implementation of the capital components of the budget beyond December 31, 2020.

Doguwa said if the date was not extended, the government would have to mop up all the funds meant for capital projects in the 2020 budget and return same to government treasury, warning that such would not be in the best interest of Nigerians.

The Majority Leader said the advantage of the extension was that capital projects execution would help boost the economy and speed up recovery from the current recession.

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, in his ruling, stated that though cogent reasons had been cited in the request, the amendment could not be initiated with a motion but a bill.

Gbajabiamila, therefore, asked Doguwa and Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business to come up with a bill to amend the 2020 Appropriation Act and schedule the first, second and third readings for Wednesday, as the National Assembly planned to go on recess on Thursday.

The House, also on Tuesday, received reports on the Finance Bill 2020 and harmonised version of the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had transmitted Finance Bill 2020 to the National Assembly for consideration and passage along with the 2021 Appropriation Bill presently before the parliament.

Source: Punch

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