The 2018 Appropriation Bill will be presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to a joint session of the National Assembly today (Tuesday).
According to reports, the Federal Government plans to spend about N8.6tn next year, an increase of 15 per cent from the N7.44tn budgeted for the current year.
The figures were contained in the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, which Buhari had earlier sent to the National Assembly in compliance with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.
It was gathered that leaders of both the Senate and the House of Representatives were making last minute efforts to prevent drama during the presentation.
A source in the Senate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed on Monday that both the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, held series of meetings with members of both chambers to douse the brewing tension since Buhari’s letter informing the lawmakers of the presentation last week.
The source informed one of our correspondents that some members of the House of Representatives specifically had made moves to prevent Buhari from laying the budget proposal today, while calling for postponement of the presentation.
Leaders of both chambers were said to have begun a massive lobbying of the lawmakers, especially the aggrieved ones, and held meetings with them simultaneously on Monday.
The source said, “The President will present the budget on Tuesday (today) but there is an issue. Some members of the National Assembly, particularly in the House of Representatives, are against the presentation of a new budget proposal when the current one has not been implemented considerably.
“If you recall, there were protests in the House of Representatives when the President’s letter was read last week. The issue now is how to contain the aggrieved lawmakers so that they will not raise their grievances as Buhari presents the budget. Their grouse may be legitimate but we don’t want a situation where the session will record unpalatable drama or become rowdy.
“This is the reason why there have been series of meetings with caucuses in the chambers, including the one by the leaders, which will hold tonight (Monday).
Again, it is most likely that there will be a closed-door session at the beginning of the plenary tomorrow; this is another way of preventing a crisis.”
Members of the House of Representatives had on Thursday protested as Buhari requested their permission in a letter to present the estimates of the 2018 budget to the joint session of the National Assembly.
Dogara, however, reminded his colleagues that under the Constitution, they could not refuse to receive the appropriation bill from the President.
The President is expected to present the bill by 2pm.
Source: ( Punch Newspaper)