The Senate Chamber on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 descended heavily on the Executive arm of government over the violation of Fiscal Responsibility Act. The Chamber, in a Motion titled “Non-Submission of 2017 Budget by Public Corporations in Violation of Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA)”, sponsored by the Senate Majority Leader, Ahmad Lawan and presented by the Senate Deputy Majority Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah frowned at the action of the Public Corporations.
Sen. Na’Allah expressed worry over the non-submission of 2017 budget proposal by Statutory Corporations to the National Assembly. He asserted that Section 21 (1) (2) and (3) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act stipulates that:
“(1) The Government Corporations and Agencies and Government owned Companies listed in the schedule to this Act (in this Act referred to as ‘Corporations’) shall not later than 6 months from the commencement of this Act and for every three financial years thereafter and not later than the end of the second quarter of every year, cause to be submitted to the Minister their schedule estimates of revenue and expenditure for the next three financial years.
(2) Each of the bodies referred to in subsection (1) of this section shall submit to the Minister not later than the end of August in each financial year:
(a) An annual budget derived from the estimates submitted in pursuance of subsection (1) of this section and
(b) Projected operating surplus which shall be prepared in line with acceptable accounting practices.
(3) The Minister shall cause the estimates submitted in pursuance of subsection (2) of this section to be attached as part of the draft Appropriation Bill to be submitted to the National Assembly.
The Upper Legislative Chamber observed that the non-compliance to the provision of the Fiscal Responsibility Act constitutes abuse of power and economic sabotage aimed at frustrating the current economic measures being taken by the present administration. Accordingly, the Motion scaled through with two Resolutions below:
i) Urge the President to as a matter of urgency submit the 2017 Agencies’ budget to the National Assembly in accordance with the provision of section 21 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act not later than two weeks.
ii) Agencies should henceforth stop further expenditure of their budget except salaries until they complied with the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Nonetheless, the Red Chamber has debated and passed for second reading five Bills that include:
1) A Bill for an Act to Amend the National Youth Corps Service Act CAP N84 LFN 2004 to provide for free and compulsory acquisition of Vocational Skills by Corps Members and for such related matters, 2017 (S.B. 147), sponsored by Sen. Stella Oduah (Anambra North). The Bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendment to report back in four weeks.
2) A Bill for an Act to provide for the Establishment of Federal Entrepreneurship Centres at Local Government Areas and for other matters connected thereto, 2017 (S.B. 133), sponsored by Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa (Abia North). The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Industry, State and Local Governments to report back in four weeks.
3) A Bill for an Act to make comprehensive provisions for the Confiscation, Forfeiture and Management of Proceeds of Crimes derived from unlawful activities and for connected matters thereto 2017 (S.B. 376), sponsored by Sen. Mohammed Hassan (Yobe South). It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to report back in four weeks.
4) A Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of Chartered Polymer Institute of Nigeria and for other matters connected thereto 2017 (S.B. 396) sponsored by Sen. Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu North). The Bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service to report back in four weeks.
5) A Bill for an Act to establish and regulate the Nigerian Assets Management Agency charged with the responsibility of managing all Government Assets including those seized, forfeited or taken over by the Federal Government Bodies such as EFCC, ICPC, Police, Customs, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps among others and other matters connected thereto, 2017 (S.B. 285), sponsored by Sen. Mustapha Bukar (Katsina North).
The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to report back in four weeks.