Senate gives MDAs ultimatum to defend budget

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By Cecilia John

The Senate has given Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs), until Feb. 22 and 23 to defend their 2017 budget proposals.

The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, who gave the ultimatum at plenary on Wednesday, decried the non-challant attitude of some ministers and heads of agencies towards budget defence.

He expressed concern that few persons would hold the country to ransom for refusal to defend their budgets.

According to him, the National Assembly would have finished with the budget defence a week ago if not for the delay by MDAs.

“We are adjourning plenary to allow the committees to complete the budget defence as a result of the meetings with MDAs.

“A few ministers and chief executive of organisations (CEOs) have not come before their respective committees to make their budget defence.

“We are only going to give them today and tomorrow to do that.

“We are not going to keep this open because of a few people. We have already lost a week because we should have finished by the end of last week.

“This is the final warning to all those required to appear before the committees within the stipulated time,’’ he said.

Saraki urged committees that had finished their defence but were yet to submit their reports to put finishing touches and submit to the Appropriation Committee.

He said the Senate was determined to pass the 2017 Appropriation Bill by the second week of March.

Addressing newsmen shortly after plenary, the Senate Spokesperson said any MDAs that failed to defend its budget within the given time risk forfeiting its capital budget allocation.

He said with the power of appropriation belonging to the National Assembly, Senate would not hesitate to apply legislative action on erring MDAs.