National Assembly shifts passage of 2023 Budget to next week

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The National Assembly yesterday postponed the passage of the 2023 Appropriation Bill till Wednesday, December 28, 2022.

Indications that the upper chamber was not ready to pass the Bill as scheduled emerged when the presentation and consideration of the budget report was not listed on the Order Paper for the day’s legislative activities.

The lawmakers had upon resumption devolved into an executive session which lasted for about 15 minutes.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan in his address after the closed door session said the 2023 Appropriations Bill report was not ready  because the committee could not complete work on it as expected.

He however blamed the executive arm of government for submitting the budget proposal very late and when it was laid, it came with errors.

He also said that the process of cleaning the errors contained in the Appropriations Bill was concluded on Wednesday adding that the two chambers have to harmonize the copy to be able to present the report for passage by both chambers on Wednesday 28th, 2022.

Lawan also assured that the implementation of the  proposed budget would still commence on 1st of January, 2023.

Lawan said: “We are not able to pass the 2023 Appropriations Bill due to some challenges.

“We are not able to receive the report of the Appropriations Committee and the main reason for this is because the Appropriation Bill came to the National Assembly with some problems,”.

“When our Committees on Appropriations in the Senate and the House of Representatives started to reconcile the figures of what was presented, the problems became very obvious and they were not easy to deal with.

“Therefore, our committees had to start the process of cleaning the bill first. That process also engaged the executive arm because the problem came from there.

“It was concluded only yesterday (Wednesday) and our committee secretariat was not able to finish processing the budget for us to take today nor tomorrow, Saturday or Sunday because these are periods that are for festivities, the Christmas period. Monday and Tuesday are public holidays.

“Consequently we can only receive the report and consider it on Wednesday, the 28th, that’s the earliest. That is next week.

“All the appropriations since 2019 till date had been passed before the end of the year. I believe this will be one of the legacies of the 9th National Assembly. 

“By the grace of God on the 28th of this month, the Senate and the House of Representatives will all come back to receive and consider the budget report from our committees.

“Secondly, our committee on Finance is this morning holding a public hearing on the Finance Bill 2022, and of course the finance Bill is the basis on which the Appropriation Bill 2023 is built.

“We had arranged yesterday that the finance committee will present a report of the Finance Bill Hearing at 2pm today. That of course would not be possible.

“This is the reason: We also receive two communications yesterday – Supplementary Budget 2022 and of course, Ways and Means.

“So our committees on Appropriation, Finance, Water Resources, Agriculture and Works and Housing will be processing the Bills for today.

“In that respect, the Senate will adjourn immediately so that our committees start the action they are supposed to take and therefore those reports will also be available to us on 28th December when we will be here.

“And by the Grace of God, Wednesday the 28th December, 2022 will be a very heavily loaded day for us, but I’m sure we will be able to deal with all the issues that Wednesday and our colleagues who would wish to travel back to continue the festivities with their families can still make it the following day.

“I want to thank all of you my Distinguished colleagues for your support, cooperation, commitment, dedication on all these things that we have been doing as a legislature.

“Let me advise the Executive. The Bills that have come to us, the Ways and Means, the Supplementary Appropriation, whoever is invited to come and explain, give information or any detail for the National Assembly to understand must do so, because its not our work alone.

“We want to do our work thoroughly, we want to understand whatever we are going to deal with and to base our decisions on information, and time is of essence.

“Just like we are going to sacrifice part of our festive period to be back here, nobody should tell us that they are in their places because it is Christmas. They should be available with every necessary information.”

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