The Senate has expressed concern that the absence of chief executives of revenue generating agencies before its panel could delay the passage of the 2018 budget by December 31st, 2017.
This, the Senate said, has made the January to December budget timeframe unrealistic.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday, Senate Spokesman, Aliyu Sabi said the upper legislative chamber is worried about how some heads of key agencies deliberately refuse to honour Senate invitation to discuss the budget.
Those accused are Group Managing Director, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) Baru Maikanti; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele; Comptroller General of the Customs Service, Hamed Ali.
Others include Director-General, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Yemi Kale and Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, Mordecai Baba Ladan.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, John Enoh, laid the report on the 2018 to 2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) to the Senate on Wednesday, in readiness for consideration and approval at Thursday plenary.
The Senate spokesperson, who is also a member of the Appropriations Committee, lamented that the absence of chief executives of key agencies are making the work of the joint committee difficult.
He cited the interactive session with agencies which witnessed the absence of heads of agencies like the CBN, NNPC, DPR, NIS, NBS among others.
His words: “The Senate is disturbed by a new trend where heads or chief executives of critical institutions who should play a critical role in this budget process but who choose to ignore the invitation by the Senate to appear before it for deliberation.
“Specifically, yesterday (Tuesday) when we had a deliberation, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning was around. But based on the discussion we were supposed to have; to look at the revenue projections which are the basis for the MTEF, I want to report here that the GMD of NNPC refused to show up. Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria refused to show up. The Comptroller General of Customs refused to show up. The Director General of the National Bureau of Statistics refuse to show up. And the Director of DPR refused to show up.
“The question to ask here is this: if the national budget is very important and all of us depend on the resources of the country to run our businesses, what other business could be more important than looking at this very critical assignment for this country?”
Recall that Senate President, Bukola Saraki, had revealed that the Senate would approve the MTEF/FSP this week, while debate on general principles of the N8.612 trillion 2018 budget earlier scheduled for this week had been shifted to Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja