Fiscal Discipline: Dogara Calls For Constitutional Amendment. | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Fiscal Discipline: Dogara Calls For Constitutional Amendment.

Posted: Jan 12, 2016 at 5:16 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)
Rotimi Akinwumi
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara has again called for a review of the constitution aimed at reducing distortions to the nation’s budgetary calendar arising from the length of time within which the President can spend money from the treasury in the absence of appropriation.
He however, urged the parliament to give speedy and thorough consideration to the 2016 budget currently before the parliament.
The Speaker who made the call while delivering a welcome address to members upon their return from Christmas break also urged his colleagues to hasten their actions regarding effective oversight with a view to delivering a beneficial budget to Nigerians.
Dogara said: “In order to ensure an orderly and predictable budgeting system in Nigeria, it may be necessary to introduce some Constitutional amendments. Specifically, Section 81(1) may be amended to read that “The President shall cause to be prepared and laid before each House of the National Assembly not later than ninety days before the end of the financial year, estimates of the revenues and expenditure of the Federation for the next following financial year”.
“Submitting a Budget at least 3 months before the end of a financial year is consistent with international best practices and allows the parliament enough time to scrutinise and pass the budget early, before the commencement of a financial year.
“This would do away with the current provision that allows the President to present the Budget at “any time” before the end of the financial year”.
“Furthermore, Section 82 of the Constitution may also need to be amended to reduce the period allowed for pre budget expenditure authorization by Mr President from six months to three months, as this distorts the budget process. Time has come also to enforce the reporting requirements imposed in the yearly appropriation Bills on the Minister of Finance and various MDAs.
“At our last sitting of 2015, I had stated that a well crafted budget is in vain without efficient and diligent implementation. It means then that we must not only do our part by giving Nigerians a budget that meets the new vision, spirit and aspirations but determine, through the instrumentality of oversight, to hold the Executive Branch accountable for a full and efficient budget implementation.
“In my New Year greetings, I had called on our citizens to shake up docility and go to work in the New Year in order to build a country of our dream. In the aftermath of that call, I got thousands of direct messages on my Twitter handle from Nigerians saying they are prepared to work but there are no employment opportunities. This further dramatizes the urgency of the unemployment situation in Nigeria”, he said.
He added that “I was also rudely awaken to the reality of the large number of Nigerians, especially construction workers that have gone without salaries for months while others have, in fact, been laid off from their jobs on account of the inability of many construction firms executing government contracts to continue with existing contracts owing to non-payment for work executed. Since job creation is one of the fundamental policies of the APC administration, we cannot treat job losses lightly”.
“So many of our people are hurting. As true representatives of the people, we owe a duty to make haste; and whether we make haste slowly or we slowly make haste, we must hasten those long nights of despair into a glorious morning for our citizens who hope to go back to work as soon as Government pays the firms they were working for.
“We must therefore pass the 2016 budget which includes Mr. President’s proposals on job creation, early, to restore confidence in existing obligations and the economy generally. I have no doubt Hon. Colleagues, that we shall rise in unity, as has been the tradition of this honourable House, to surmount these challenges without any display of partisanship”, the Speaker urged.