The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has told the federal government to let the implementation of the 2017 budget run till the end of May 2018.
His comment, which was directed at the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, followed a point of order raised by Atai Aidoko (PDP, Kogi East).
Mr Aidoko brought the attention of the senate to a circular issued to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), which states that 2017 budget funds will be “mopped up” by March 31.
He said it contravenes the provisions of section 3(1) of the constitution, adding that the section mandates that the budget runs for 12 months after the presidential assent.
The senator explained that the directive is causing panic in the system, citing the MDAs like ”the SDG that just got money for special projects only last week, some contracts have not even been awarded, so how can they award contracts and these contracts, the monies must utilised before the end of 31st of March?”
President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the 2017 budget in May 2017. On Tuesday, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Mustapha Dawaki, disclosed that the National Assembly had written to the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation on the need to continue funding for the 2017 budget till May 31.
Reacting to the point of order, Mr Saraki directed the Ministry of Finance to rescind the circular, adding that it does not have the powers to do so.
He mandated the chairpersons of the Senate Committees on Appropriations and Finance to communicate to the Minister of Finance and MDAs that the budget should run for 12 months.
“The budget runs for 12 months and it goes through May. Chairman of Appropriations is not here. Chairmen of Finance, both of you are here, hence, you will need to communicate to the Minister of Finance and all agencies that the budget was passed to run 12 months, and it must run for 12 months,” he said.
He added that rounding off the budget before its legally stipulated date was not acceptable, as it had to be included in an appropriation act which needed to be compiled and sent to the National Assembly.