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Group Wants Constitution Amendment To Check Budget Delays

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Group Wants Constitution Amendment To Check Budget Delays

The Centre for Social Justice on Sunday called for an amendment of the 1999 Constitution to adjust the timeframe for the submission of the annual budget.

It said the amendment of the constitution should be done in a manner that would give both the executive and the legislature a specified timeframe to submit and approve annual budgets.

In recent times, there have been disagreement between the executive and the National Assembly over the passage of the annual budgets.

As a result of the power tussle between the executive and the legislature, budget implementation has always commenced very late into the fiscal year in the past few years.

For instance, the 2011 budget was passed on March 25, 2011, while that of 2012 was passed on March 14 of that same year.

The 2013 budget was passed by the lawmakers on December 20,2012 and signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan in February 2013; while the 2014, 2015 and 2016 budgets were also signed in May of each year.

The 2017 budget, which was submitted to the lawmakers in December 2016, was not passed and assented to until June of last year.

The 2018 budget, which was designed to consolidate on the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, was presented to the National Assembly on November 7, 2017.

It was passed by the lawmakers on May 16, 2018, transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari on May 25 and assented to by him on June 20.

The Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere, said the current scenario where either a President or a governor could submit the budget to the legislature at any time in the preceding year was encouraging executive recklessness.

He stated, “Submitting the 2018 budget estimates on the 7th of November 2017 was late and cannot in any way lead to the restoration of the budget calendar. It left the legislature with roughly about one working month to the end of the year, and that will not be enough time to finish the appropriation process in the legislature and come out with a clean copy of the budget.

“The process of budget preparation started late; the budget was submitted late to the National Assembly and the National Assembly’s approval also was very late.”

Onyekpere added, “Let the 1999 Constitution be amended to give both the executive and the legislature a timeframe to submit and approve the budget.

“The present scenario where the President or governor can submit the budget to the legislature at any time within the preceding year encourages executive recklessness, while the absence of a time limit for the legislature to do their job fuels legislative rascality.”

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