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The National Assembly has breached its legislative procedure after it engaged the Federal Government on the revised 2020 budget before submission to the chamber. According to reports, the National Assembly and FG are deliberating to avoid the usual confrontation that trails the budget submission.
It was disclosed that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed and the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, both met with key committees of the Senate and House of Representatives to deliberate on the contents of the budget without the formal presentation or before budget defence session.
Speaking on the consultation before heading into another meeting with the committees, Ahmed said, "We are here today as part of 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,” Ahmed said in a report by Punch.
AllNews had reported that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the reduction of the budget expenses from N10.59 trillion to N10.52 trillion. This was done after Ahmed submitted the 2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework. The 2020 budget has a deficit of N5.3 trillion, while the oil benchmark was reduced to $25 from $30 on Wednesday, May 14, 2020. Recall that the government had previously cut the benchmark from $57 to $30 after oil price crashed due to the outbreak of coronavirus and the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Both parties trying to avoid confrontation
Also commenting on the meeting, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Barau Jibrin, said the purpose was to avoid confrontation during the budget defence session, “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.”
The Chairman of Senate Committee on Finance, Solomon Adeola, said, "The consultation is work in progress 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. It is until then we can make any major pronouncement concerning the MTEF/FSP and the revised 2020 Appropriation Act."
Other Committee Chairman at the meeting includes Bassey Akpan (Petroleum Resources upstream), Olubunmi Adetunmbi (National Planning) and Clifford Ordia, ( Local and Foreign Debts).
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