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Revised 2020 budget: Ahmed meets lawmakers
From Sanni Onogu, Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, yesterday met with the Chairmen and members of relevant committees of the National Assembly to iron out grey areas in the reviewed 2020 budget now before both chambers.
Present at the session were the National Assembly Joint Committees on Appropriation, Finance, National Planning, Local and Foreign Debts and Petroleum (Upstream).
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate) Senator Babajide Omoworare and his House of Representatives counterpart, Hon. Umar Ibrahim El-Yakub, had on Wednesday evening submitted the revised 2020 budget, as well as the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) from the Executive to the Appropriation Committees of both chambers.
Members of the National Assembly at the interactive session which was held behind closed doors include the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Jibrin Barau, Chairman Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola and the Chairman, Senate Committee on National Planning, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, among others.
Mrs. Ahmed, who was accompanied by the Director-General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze in her opening remarks, said the meeting was in continuation of her consultative meetings with the National Assembly.
“We are here today as 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 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (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.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Barau Jibrin, said the meeting was meant to discuss new initiatives that would make the country come off the present pandemic stronger.
Jibrin said: “The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, is here to meet with us to navigate on the way forward. It has been an ongoing interaction.
“The minister has come here several times to discuss with the leadership of the National Assembly on how to deal with the pandemic.
“It is part of the process that we are continuing today. It is work in progress.
“Sometimes, there are initiatives in line with the fact that we are always on the same page with the executive arm of government in our zeal to make sure that this country comes out stronger due to the sad period we are in.
“What we are going to do here with the Minister of Finance is a continuation of the process we had started. She is here with fresh ideas in order to find a common ground on issues.”
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On his part, Senator Adeola said the meeting was meant to take briefings from the executive on measures being put in place to combat the economic angle of COVID-19.
“The Minister is here to brief the committee chairmen of the chambers as to the efforts that the government is putting in place to tackle the economic angle of COVID -19. We are are here to start the processing of the 2020 amendment Bill.”
The Committee chairmen in attendance at the session, apart from Jibrin and Adeola are, Senators Bassey Akpan (Petroleum Upstream), Olubunmi Adetunmbi (National Planning) and Clifford Ordia, (Local and Foreign Debts).
While answering questions from reporters after the meeting, Senator Adeola said: “The consultation is a 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 before we can make any major pronouncement concerning the what is in the MTEF/FSP and the revised 2020 Appropriation Act.
“The budget is already in the National Assembly. The legislative process has to take its course before any major pronouncement could be made.”
On his part, Senator Jibrin said: “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.
“We want to have a smooth process that would be devoid of acrimony or disagreement between the National Assembly and the executive.
“The Minister was here in pursuant of the earlier trend which had been established since the beginning of the 9th Senate.
“The impact of the COVID-19 on the economy is that the revenue that was supposed to flow into the coffers of government are not coming in.
“The need arises to amend the budget to go in tune with the current reality. We don’t have enough revenue coming in and there are series of problems coming up.”
Revised 2020 budget: Ahmed meets lawmakers