Passage of 2017 budget, our priority – Reps

Passage of 2017 budget, our priority - Reps

It was gathered that the House of Representatives has said the passage of the 2017 Appropriation Bill would be its priority when it resumes from a two-week Easter recess today.

Spokesman of the House, Abdulrazak Namdas who made the disclosure insisted that lawmakers would expedite action towards having the budget passed, especially as the National Assembly and the Presidency were in agreement on key aspects of the Appropriations Bill.

“We want to ensure that within a few weeks, the budget will be passed. I can tell you that during the Easter break, the leadership of the National Assembly met severally with the Executive’s team led by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to streamline the budgety to ensure it tallies with priority areas of the Federal Government. I can tell you that if this budget is passed, there will be little or no issues with the Executive implementing it,” he said.

When asked if other priority interventions of the House included the concurrence of important legislations such amendment of the Electoral Act 2010 as passed by Senate on Thursday, March 30, Namdas said the House would follow due process and not be in a hurry to pass any bill.

The Senate passed amendments to the Electoral Act 2010, approving the use of electronic voting in future elections. It also approved that election results should be electronically transmitted to collation centers.

“Any bill that is passed by the Senate must be given concurrence by the House and vice-versa. But you also have to understand that concurrence by either House is not automatic, neither is the rule that the bill be passed the exact manner it was sent to either House.

But what is important is that we will work hard to pass bills that will enhance good governance on time,” Namdas stated.

Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara had during the Easter recess of the National Assembly met with Osinbajo to sort out grey areas on the 2017 Appropriations Bill.

Namdas explained that the meeting was targeted at harmonising the positions of the Legislature and Executive on the budget.

Despite worry expressed by experts over the fact that 2016 Appropriations Act elapsed on Thursday March 5, Namdas had assured that the budget proposal being considered by various Standing House Committees would be passed after resumption from the Easter recess.

On expectations that the leadership of the House upon resumption will look into timely conclusion of investigations by committees, especially ad hoc committees some of which were dissolved by the Speaker before the break without submitting their reports, Namdas said the House has been serious with carrying out its constitutional responsibility.

The lawmakers embarked on break on Tuesday April 11 and would resume plenary session today. But there is likelihood that the Senate and the House would adjourn over the death of Senator Isiaka Adeleke in line with its tradition of honouring dead colleagues.

“Yes, the Speaker dissolved ad hoc committees but my understanding is that next action on investigations undertaken by these committees will either be taken over by standing committees or be re-assigned as decided by the leadership of the House.

“For ongoing investigations, I can tell you that we are committed to reaching tangible conclusions and this will be done in timely manner,” he said.

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