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Thirty-seven Senate committees delay 2019 budget passage

THE Senate committee on appropriations has disclosed that it could not prepare its report on the 2019 budget due to the failure of 37 sub-committees to submit reports.

The committee’s vice chairman, Sunny Ogbuoji, made this disclosure on Tuesday during the plenary session after Senate President Bukola Saraki asked for updates on the report.

“If you remember last week, we made a commitment that by Thursday, you’ll be laying the appropriation report,” Saraki said.

“We want to find out how far and how much progress you have done with your committee and whether everybody has submitted their report and whether you are on course. Please inform us where you are.”

Ogbuoji replied that his committee could not go ahead in preparing its reports as committees under it have not submitted their reports.

“We are still having some challenges with the sub-committees on appropriations because out of the 61 committees that we have, only about 24 committees have submitted their reports and we are unable to go ahead and write the appropriation report unless we get a further directive from here,” he explained.

“My request would have been that we are allowed to prepare this report even on behalf of the committees that have not submitted their report. That’s where we are now, unfortunately.”

The Senate president asked the appropriations committee to ensure its report is ready by Thursday, using executive submissions where other committees have failed to fulfil their obligations.

He said: “It is unfortunate that only 24 committees have submitted their reports. Last week, we all took a decision that we are not going to waver on our position. Our position was very clear that all committees should submit and for those that don’t submit, the appropriation should use executive submission.”

“So, I think that position is still where we are and I want to appeal to all our committees, we have just tomorrow to make sure that their reports get to you because Thursday, you must lay this report here,” he added.

“If you don’t get reports from the committees by tomorrow, then you just use executive submission. But come Thursday, you must lay that report. That is the position we have taken.”

Saraki had, on Wednesday, given assurance that the appropriation bill will be passed on Tuesday, April 16. At the time the promise was made, according to Ogbuoji, less than 10 committees had submitted their reports.

The Senate had suspended its plenary for a week to give time to the committees to prepare their reports and also to honour the memory of Mohammed Dantani, a former member of the House of Representatives who died in March.

It is not the first time Senate committees are slow to submit. In April 2018, the Senate president had also referred to 20 committees that were yet to make submissions to the appropriations committees after the stipulated deadline and gave April 13 as their new deadline. The 2018 budget was finally passed into law on May 16.

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