President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that both chambers of the National Assembly may pass the 2020 budget on Wednesday, December 4, 2019.
Lawan gave the hint when a delegation from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) paid a courtesy visit to his office at the National Assembly, Abuja.
According to Lawan, the Senate and House Committees on Appropriation sought a week extension to enable them conclude work on the report of the 2020 Appropriations Bill to be laid on Tuesday, December 3, 2019.
“We want to pass the budget 2020 before the end of the year. Actually, today would have been the day for laying the budget, but our committees on appropriations sought for an extension by one week only," Lawan said.
“By Tuesday next week, we expect the budget 2020 to be laid before the two chambers of the National Assembly. It is our desire to pass the budget the following day Wednesday.
“So we are thinking the budget would be laid on the 3rd of December, and by 4th December (on Wednesday), the Senate and the House of Representatives should be able to pass the 2020 budget.”
The Senate President, in his welcome address, sought the partnership of the ICAN with the National Assembly in ensuring accountability and transparency on the part of agencies tasked with revenue generation, collection and remittance.
“We need your support in the National Assembly. We have particularly three committees that require the kind of support that you will give.
“First, we have the Committee on Finance. As a committee, we need the support of ICAN. Only recently, the committee organised the public hearing on Finance Bill.
“I want to thank you for participating fully. We appreciate your support and commitment in that aspect.
“Going forward, there are so many challenges that will come up in the implementation of the laws.
“One area we have a challenge today is the area of revenue generation, collection and remittance.
“Until we are able to generate sufficient revenues, most of our hopes and aspiration will continue to give us a lot of challenges in realising them.
“So we need a situation where we will continue to engage the revenue agencies. We want to see transparency in all that they do.
“We want to ensure that where there are challenges in terms of legislation, that we provide the intervention they require to be efficient and effective.
“One thing we are determined to ensure is that whatever is generated is remitted to the federation account as provided in the constitution. So Accountants will be very fundamental in what we are going to do.”
Earlier in his speech, the President of ICAN and leader of the delegation, Mazi Nnamdi Okwuadigbo, urged the Senate to continue to facilitate the passage of bills that would promote professionalism, social, economic and human capital development.
Okwuadigbo added that the renewed interest of the National Assembly at improving the budget process would attract positive results on the provision of infrastructure and growth of the Nigerian economy.
“We have the confidence that this would be sustained to forestall previous occurrences where budgets were approved late, thus, leading to poor or non- implementation of major projects that should facilitate the much-desired inclusive growth and development in the country,” he said.
He also tasked the National Assembly, and other stakeholders to commit to the timely approval of the National budget so as to enable timely commencement of the implementation of the budget from the beginning of January of every year.
On the ICAN delegation are: Vice-President of the Institute, Onome Adewuyi; First Deputy Vice President, Comfort Eyitayo; Second Deputy Vice President, Tijjani Musa Isa; Immediate Past President of ICAN, Ismaila Zakari; Council member, Chibuzor Anyanechi; Council member, Nasir Mohammed, outgoing Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, John Evbodaghe; incoming Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Ahmed Kumshe, and Principal Manager, Corporate Communications, Bunmi Owolai.