Senate President Bukola Saraki has cautioned heads of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) against unnecessary travels during their budget defense.

The N8.6 trillion budget submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari scaled second reading at the Senate on Tuesday, December 5, 2017.

Saraki announced two-week suspension of plenary till Tuesday, December 19, 2017, to allow for MDAs to defend their budget before the joint committees considering the 2018 appropriation bill.

He also had words for committee chairmen and members.

His words: “We know that the timetable is very tight. We will be suspending plenary for us to be able to start the defense of this budget. Committee chairmen and members should please ensure that we keep to this timetable.

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“Let me respond with a general note of warning to all heads of MDAs to ensure that they strictly respect the letters of invitation and the timetable. This is not time for excuses for Ministers or Heads of parastatals to be traveling and not be able to attend their budget defense.

“We do not have the time. This is a very short time frame, therefore, I expect all MDAs to be able to respect our invitation and be there on time so that the Committees can wrap up and be able to present their reports by the time we come back on Tuesday, the 19th of December,” he said.

The President of the Senate also announced that the Senate will be having a public hearing on the budget on Monday, December 11, 2017.

The Senate had increased the oil benchmark for 2018 to $47 per barrelfrom the $45 proposed by the executive arm of government.