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In Abuja FIRS budget fails passage in Senate

The lawmakers said that the budget was replete with ambiguous figures and questionable capital project inclusions.

  • Published:
The Nigerian Senate play

The Nigerian Senate

(omojuwa)

The N146.17 billion 2016 budget of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) suffered set back on Thursday as the Senate declined to approve it.

The failure of the upper chamber to pass the budget of the service sent by the Presidency on July 21followed what it described as poor job by its Finance Committee which scrutinised the proposal.

The budget was referred to the committee on July 25 after its receipt.

The lawmakers said that the budget was replete with ambiguous figures and questionable inclusion of certain capital projects, a situation they said had become an annual routine.

The finance committee headed by Sen. John Enoh (PDP-Cross River) was therefore directed by the senate to take the budget back and reflect all the observations and represent it in one week.

Presenting the committee’s report of the budget earlier, Enoh had explained the rationale for including some capital projects in it but the explanation was rejected by the lawmakers.

Consequently, the Leader of the Senate, Alhaji Ali Ndume, called for stepping down of the consideration of the report until more work was done on it.

In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, deplored the preponderance of late submission of budgets of government departments and agencies, especially revenue generating ones.

He warned that henceforth, budgets of special agencies not included in the yearly budget, must be submitted not later than the first quarter of the year.

“I will partly blame these things on the late submission of budgets. This practice where government agencies send their budgets late to the National Assembly and expect them to be passed immediately will not be tolerated.

“They must submit their budgets early so that we can have enough time to work on their proposals. If we do that, these issues we have here will not arise.

The relevant committees should take note of that and ensure that right thing is done,” Saraki said.

He ruled that the report should be returned to the committee for proper work and to be returned to the chamber within one week.

Similarly, the Senate also refused to pass the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Authority Act, 2011 Amendment Bill 2016.

The report on the Bill which was also presented by the Finance Committee was rejected on grounds that there were constitutional conflicts in the report.

According to the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who made the observation, it will be illegal to pass the amendment bill without first amending the Constitution.

He said that the Constitution stipulates how monies meant for the Federation Account should be shared among the three tiers of government, which the Bill tried to circumvent.

The report was subsequently suspended pending when the National Assembly will conclude ongoing constitution review.

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