The National Assembly on Thursday started the consideration of 2020 Budget amendment as it still remains at N10.596 trillion.
Due to the urgency of budget, both Chamber ignored their procedures of official acknowledgement f communications from the Presidency in their Hallowed Chambers before any consideration or deliberation at the committee level.
Speaking after her appearance before the two Chambers on Appropriation, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Ahmed Zainab, said the session was in line with consultative process between the National Assembly and the Executive arm of government on COVID-19 vis-a-vis required amendment of the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Frame work/Fiscal Strategy Paper and the earlier passed and signed N10.596 trillion 2020 Budget.
Ahmed said: “We are here today as another consultative process just to take input from the leadership of the National Assembly regarding the work that we are doing in the process of amending the MTEF 2020-2022 and the 2020 budget.
“The outcome of this meeting will form an input into the work that we are doing, which will subsequently be confirmed by the National Assembly.”
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Jibrin Barau (APC-Kano North), in an interview with journalists after the consultation session with the Minister and DG, Budget Office, said amended copies of the N10.596 trillion 2020 Budget have been received by the leadership of both Chambers.
According to Barau, while proposals on the drastically reduced 2020 Budget were received on Tuesday evening by the leadership of the House of Representatives, the Senate received similar communication cum request from President Muhamnadu Buhari on Wednesday this week.
He said: “Now that the bill to amend the 2020 Budget has been submitted to the National Assembly, we decided to strengthen the collaboration of consistent engagement with the executive arm of government so that by the time we go into the full activity of processing the bill, we would not have any major disagreement.
“We want to have a smooth process that would be devoid of acrimony or disagreement between the National Assembly and the executive.
“The Minister was here in pursuant of the earlier trend, which had been established since the beginning of the 9th Senate.
“The impact of the COVID-19 on the economy is that the revenue that was supposed to flow into the coffers of government are not coming in, necessitating amendment of the earlier passed budget to be in tune with the current realities.
“We don’t have enough revenues coming in and there are series of problems coming up, which can best be addressed by drastic review of the earlier passed N10.596 trillion budget.”
However the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (APC Lagos West), at the interview said the interface was just an earlier scheduled consultation between the committees and the Minister as directed by the National Assembly leadership last week.
Adeola said: “The budget is already in the National Assembly but legislative process has to take its course before any major pronouncement could be made.
“The consultation is work in progress, but until the document is laid in the National Assembly, which we hoped in no distance future would be unfolded and we would have the full grasp of what is contained in the document before we can make any major pronouncement concerning the what the MTEF/FSP and the revised 2020 Appropriation Act.”
Other Committees chairmen in attendance apart from Jibrin and Adeola were Senators Bassey Akpan (Petroleum Upstream), Olubunmi Adetunmbi (National Planning), Clifford Ordia ( Local and Foreign Debts) and Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Wole Oke as well as Hon, Cook Olododo representing Ilorin South and East Federal Constituency of Kwara State.