OrderPaperToday – The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has asked ministers and heads of parastatals to defend the budget estimates for their establishments within this month.

The Senate President said such schedule will help to move the budget cycle to January to December.

This was contained in his opening remarks at the budget presentation ceremony at the joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

It is noteworthy that budget defence exercise was a cause of friction between the executive and the legislature in the last couple of years. The passage of the 2019 budget in particular, was delayed by this.

But addressing the joint session on Tuesday, Lawan said the “National Assembly Committees are ready to receive the Honourable Ministers and other heads of government agencies for the defense of the Budget estimates of the various MDAs.

“In order for timely passage, all MDAs are expected to appear before the Committees for the defense of their Budget estimates within the month of October. We have earmarked the month of October to be the sole window for all budget defense activities in this year, by all MDAs.”

He added that “our committees will be expected to conclude their work on budget defense within October, this year. The subsequent necessary legislative work will be carried out in November and December, leading to eventual passage before the end of this year.”

Lawan also urged the revenue generating agencies to increase their revenue collection to ensure implementation of the budget, saying that “until we are able to generate and receive the necessary revenues to fund and foot the bills. It is imperative therefore, that our revenue generating agencies be more alive to their responsibilities, more innovative and focused on how to meet their revenue targets.”

He also sounded a note of caution to those who hold the view that it is not the place of the legislature to tinker with the budget, saying “the budget estimates, will remain what they are, estimates.”

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