Passage of 2019 budget may be delayed as NASS adjourns

                             2019

The proposed N8.83 trillion 2019 Appropriation Bill may not be passed by the National Assembly until after the 2019 general elections.

This indication emerged on Thursday as the two chambers of the National Assembly adjourned plenary till January 16, 2019.

The budget estimate was presented to a joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Senators and House of Representatives members adjourned plenary without the second reading of the money bill.

The presentation of the fiscal estimate by Buhari served as the first reading of the Appropriation Bill.

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The second reading is debate of the general principles of the budget, which gives the lawmakers the opportunity to talk about the merits and demerits of the budget.

What follows debate of the general principles of the budget is referring the Bill to the Appropriation Committee of the two chambers.

The standing committees of the two chambers will serve as sub committees of the Appropriation Committee to consider the Bill.

The standing committees are empowered to invite ministers and other heads of government agencies to defend their budget proposals.

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This has always been source of conflict between heads of MDAs and the lawmakers.

Although the two chambers of the National Assembly adjourned on Thursday to reconvene on January 16, insiders said the lawmakers would “merely resume plenary and adjourn again to allow everybody to prepare for 2019 the election in February 2019.”

A source close to the leadership of the National Assembly told our reporter that “anybody who is expecting the National Assembly to pass the 2019 budget before the election is not being fair to us.

“Where will you get the ministers and the heads of government agencies to defend their proposals?”

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He added: “It is clear that it is practically impossible for the National Assembly to pass the budget before the 2019 election.

“When was the budget presented by President Buhari? Who is talking about passage at this time when the second reading of the money bill has not been read.

“We will follow the normal process and see how far we can go when we reconvene in January.

“Passage of the budget is completely out of the question now. Nobody is thinking about that.”

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