The Senate has given the Presidency two weeks ultimatum to submit the budgets of 38 public corporations to the National Assembly in accordance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
The budgets of the agencies are estimated at over N10 trillion.
It also directed the agencies to stop further capital spending until they comply with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
President Muhammadu Buhari who is currently in London for medical follow-up, handed over to his vice Yemi Osinbajo in acting capacity.
At Wednesday plenary, the upper legislative chamber wondered why the agencies could not submit their budgets alongside the 2017 estimates, submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 14, 2016.
The resolution followed a motion on the non-submission of 2017 budget by public corporations in violation of the act.
Although the agencies had allocations in the N7.441trillion national budget passed last week by the National Assembly, Section 21 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act stipulates that they attach separate budgetary proposals to the national budget for scrutiny on or before the end of August for National Assembly’s approval.
The affected agencies include: the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASEI), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), National Maritime Authority (NMA), Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Nigerian Postal Service (NPS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), National Communications Commission (NCC), National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
Others are: National Insurance Commission (NIC), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Nigerian Copyrights Commission (NCC), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Radio Nigeria, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB), Federal Mortgage Bank, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), as well as Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGZFA).
Sponsor of the motion Bala Ibn Na’Allah observed that non-compliance to the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act constitutes abuse of power and economic sabotage aimed at frustrating the current economic measures taken by the present administration to address the current economic recession.
Section 21 (1-3) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act states that: “The Government corporations and agencies and government owned companies listed in the Schedule to this Act shall, not later than six months from the commencement of this Act and for every three financial years thereafter and not later than the end of the second quarter of every year, cause to be prepared and submitted to the Minister their Schedule estimates of revenue and expenditure for the next three financial years.
“Each of the bodies referred to in subsection (1) of this section shall submit to the Minister not later than the end of August in each financial year: (a) an annual budget derived from the estimates submitted in pursuance of subsection (1) of this section; and (b) projected operating surplus which shall be prepared in line with acceptable accounting practices.
“The Minister shall cause the estimates submitted in pursuance of subsection (2) of this section to be attached as part of the draft Appropriation Bill to be submitted to the National Assembly”.
However, the Senate rejected two prayers urging amendment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act to penalise infractions and a call on the Committee on Finance to ensure compliance of the Act.
Contributing to the motion, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu described the development as gross misconduct and fragrant abuse of extant laws.
Citing Section 80 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), he said: “This constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have a binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
In his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki condemned the practice where agencies of government spend money without statutory approval by the National Assembly.
This, he argued, amounts to corruption.
He appealed to chairmen of committees to ensure that they conclude budget defence sessions and submit their reports on time, once they receive proposals from agencies under them.
OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja