Leke Baiyewu, Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said he will this week meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to see how the next Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper can be laid before the National Assembly this month and the 2020 Appropriation Bill in September.
Gbajabiamila stated that the MTEF/FSP should be passed before the end of this month when the lawmakers would embark on a two-month annual recess while the national budget should be laid shortly after their resumption in September.
The Speaker made this known in Abuja on Monday when the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, visited him in his office.
Mustapha was accompanied by the Senior Special Assistants to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang and his House of Representatives counterpart, Mr Umar el-Yakub.
The executive and the legislature have clashed on an annual basis over the late presentation and passage of successive budgets.
Gbajabiamila however stated that timely laying and passage of the MTEF and budget was part of the reforms to be made by the 9th National Assembly.
He said, “Again, part of the reforms that we are seeking to achieve, which we are sticking to, is to do things differently. I will be seeing the President on this, hopefully this week.
“I want a situation where the MTEF is submitted to the House so that we can pass the MTEF before we go on break. When we come back in September, maybe within a week, by the end of September, we (should) have the budget before us.
“Because by finance law (Fiscal Responsibility Act), if the budget is based on the MTEF, the MTEF needs to be submitted before the budget. We don’t want to rush everything and at the end of the day, the budget is brought in December. So, this is the timetable that we have set. One, the MTEF to be submitted before two or three weeks for us to go over it; work on it and pass it before we go on our long break; come back in September and by the end of September, present the budget to us.
“What does that do? It leaves us with three clear months to pass the budget. And what does that do? It brings us back to that cycle that has been evasive – January to December. So that by January 1, we (will) pass the budget and we are back to that full cycle of calendar year as envisaged in the constitution.”
Gbajabiamila also lamented the infrastructural decay in the National Assembly complex, saying that the building would be handed over to the Federal Capital Territory Authority for management and maintenance.
The Speaker also told the outgoing SGF that the lawmakers would be making a series of demands from the executive as part of the reforms by the new Assembly to make their work easier.
He said, “You will be amazed that much as we pride ourselves as the biggest country in black Africa, this National Assembly does not have what you can call a library. We have more or less what is akin to a shed at the back there, like a bookstore. And it is a tool of our work.”
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