Members of the House of Representatives have assured Nigerians that there was no cause for alarm over 2017 budget still at the National Assembly.
The Appropriation Bill presented to the assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari in December, 2016, is yet to be passed.
They blamed the delay on failure of committees of both chambers to submit reports to the Appropriation Committee in spite of deadlines and delay or reluctance of ministries and government departments to supply needed information.
But, some members of the House in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja said the national assembly would do the needful to ensure that the economy was not unduly affected.
Mr Babatunde Kolawole (Ondo-APC) said that the assembly was not unmindful of the fact that government remained the biggest spender, adding that timely passage of the budget would further stimulate the economy.
“The national assembly is always proactive in the interest of Nigerians. The budget, as you know, is the most important bill that concerns the whole country.
“So, it follows then that the assembly must be interested in passing the budget in a timely fashion.
“But don’t forget that even if the 2016 budget expires on May 5, the Constitution has given the Executive the power to spend for the next six months.
“So, in the true sense of it, there would be no crisis. On the other hand, the right thing to do is to pass the budget at the right time and this is what we aim to do,” he said.
Kolawole, however, said that the 2017 budget had its own challenges which were responsible for the delay in its passage.
He added that it was better to pass a budget that factored in the infrastructure needs of the people than rush to pass a deficient budget just for the sake of passage.
“I am sure that Nigerians will be happy on the long run with the budget the National Assembly will present to them,” Kolawole said.
Rep. Emmanuel Orker-Jev, Chairman, Committee on Rules and Business, said that there was no cause for alarm over the delay in the passage of the Appropriation bill.
He said that the house could still pass the budget this week as “today is just Wednesday and we still have Thursday before May 5.
“So, one cannot conclude that the budget will not be passed’’.
Orker-Jev explained that the delay in the passage of the budget would not create any vacuum as many being insinuated, saying that the Constitution had adequately taken care of such fears.
“In the event that we are not able to pass the budget before May 5, the Constitution provides that the executive can spend for six months, so there is no cause for alarm.”
In the same vein, Rep. Kwewum Shawulu (Taraba-PDP) said that Nigerians were being unduly apprehensive about the budget.
He said that the delay in the passage of the bill would not have negative effect in the running of the government since the 1999 Constitution as amended, had taken care of any likely lacuna.
“I want Nigerians not to be worried about the budget. Even if the National Assembly did not pass the budget before the expiration of the 2016 budget, we will not have any crisis.
“People are not aware that the Constitution provides that every budget should last for 12 calendar months.
“At the end of its lifespan, if there is no new budget, the President can authorise expenditure from the nation’s treasury for a period not exceeding six months.
“In this case, the budget will expire on May 5 and hopefully we will pass the budget this month.
“The business of government will not be grounded. The executive is allowed by law to spend money in absence of a budget,” he said. (NAN)