President Muhammadu Buhari will next week present to the Joint National Assembly, the 2021 Appropriation Bill for subsequent consideration by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
In his welcome address after 67 days of annual recess by the Senators, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan who disclosed this yesterday, also said that the Upper Chamber would ensure speedy passage of the budget; commending the level of work by its Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).
Lawan has also disclosed that the country was confronted with an over $14billion revenue gap and the grim reality because of what he described as unwholesome overdependence on Oil, just as he stressed the urgent need for the country to focus on other important sectors like Agriculture, Solid Minerals, and Steel Development and manufacturing, with a view to diversifying the economy.
According to him, it has become very imperative for the Country to form a synergy with stakeholders to prevent the economy from going into a recession by stimulating the economy.
He said, “We were confronted with an over $14billion revenue gap and the grim reality of an unwholesome overdependence on Oil. We cannot overemphasize the need to focus on other important sectors like Agriculture, Solid Minerals, and Steel Development and manufacturing, with a view to diversifying our economy. We need to work with relevant stakeholders to prevent our economy from going into a recession, stimulate the economy, save and create more jobs through a sustainable multiplier effect.”
Recall that in the revised budget of 10.trillion that was signed in July by President Buhari and when converted would give $28 Billion and out of this money, Nigeria was confronted with the #14 Billion Revenue loss.
The President of the Senate who hailed the Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning for carrying out comprehensive legislative work on the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, said that the consideration of its report by the upper chamber would precede the presentation of the 2021 budget estimates next week by the President.
Lawan said, “The Joint committee will present it’s reported to the Senate today for consideration. This is a precursor to the presentation of the 2021 Budget Estimates by the Executive Arm of Government soon. I am aware that the Executive will be presenting the 2021 Budget Estimates by next week.”
Lawan who noted that the upper chamber will provide a one-month window for Budget defense by Ministries, Departments, and Agencies morning of government, said, “Like last year, the month of October 2020 will be dedicated to this exercise. Subsequent months of November and December will be dedicated to the internal processing of the Budget by NASS.
“The various MDAs are therefore advised to ensure that they avail themselves the opportunity of the Budget defense window to appear with all the relevant and necessary information to defend their Budget Estimates.”
On the Petroleum Industry Bill, the President of the Senate said that the Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Petroleum Resources (Upstream), and Gas had preliminary engagements with the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and other Stakeholders in the Oil and Gas industry, to discuss the critical piece of legislation.
According to him, “the PIB has been conveyed to the Senate for consideration.”
Speaking on the revised 2020 Budget, Lawan who emphasized the need for both chambers to carry out oversights to ensure its proper implementation, said that same must be “targeted at addressing the specific challenges occasioned by COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Lawan said, “the Senate needs to pay particular attention to the implementation of the Federal Government Economic Sustainability Plan.
“The strategic plan is an essential means of revamping our economy, as it provides interventions in the Mass Agricultural Programme, Infrastructure, Mass Housing Programme, Investments in Healthcare Infrastructure, amongst others.”
Speaking on the ongoing Constitution Review exercise, Lawan said that same will be expeditiously carried out by the upper chamber “to improve the quality of governance and ensure stability in our polity.”
He stressed that amendments to the Electoral Reform Amendment Bills will enhance free, fair, transparent and credible elections in our country.
Lamenting the security situation in parts of the country, the Senate President who underscored the need to continously seek enduring measures to arrest the situation, pledged the support of the Senate to provide the necessary legislative intervention at all times to improve the situation.
Lawan said, “the security situation in our country is not what we want it to be. We want a security situation that guarantees the protection of the lives and property of citizens. Today, our country is bedeviled by multifaceted security challenges. We, therefore, need to continuously seek enduring measures to arrest the situation. In this regard, the Senate will continue to provide the necessary legislative intervention at all times to improve the situation. There can never be any more important government function than the protection of the lives and property of its citizens.
“This Senate has recorded some achievements in the preceding year. These achievements can be attributed to the bi-partisanship, patriotism, unity of purpose, and commitment to the Nigerian people. I commend us all for being a Senate that focuses on the national interests and working for Nigeria. I am sure we are all determined to continue on this path of serving our people.”