As the Senate begins hearing from government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on the 2022 Appropriation Bill before it, Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan has called on Senate Committees to be critical and question any possible overpricing of items contained in proposals submitted by the executive arm of government.
Lawan handed down the charge on Wednesday after the plenary in Abuja as Committees were due to commence budget defense from Monday.
He emphasised that resources of government must be prudently managed, stressing that it wasn’t about annual budgets alone, but its judicious implementation that would transform the lives of Nigerians.
He said: “I want to add that our Committees will start budget defence from Monday and of course, we are going to suspend plenary from today and like we said before, our Committees must remain critical of proposals submitted to us by the executive arm of government.
“We must ensure equity in the distribution of projects.
“We must ensure economy in the application of funds. We must question any possible overpricing of items and we should at the end of the day, have a budget that covers the interest of all the communities across the country.”
The Senate President commended lawmakers for the expeditious handling of the 2021 appropriation that saw the implementation from January to December fiscal year, while he expressed optimism that they will repeat the same thing to pass the 2022 appropriation before the end of December.
“I am sure that we are ready to repeat the feat in passing the 2022 bill into law before the end of December,” he said.
He further charged all relevant Committees that oversight revenue generating agencies to rise to the occasion of ensuring that the agencies work hard to improve the nation’s revenue in 2022.
Lawan’s charge was at the backdrop of fears expressed by some Senators on the challenge of funding the 2022 budget amid high rate of debt servicing.
“Distinguished colleagues, I agree completely with those who raise the issue of revenue generation, collection and remittances into the coffers of the Federal government.
“The agencies that are supposed to collect and remit would have to be tasked and this 2022 appropriation bill shows that we have N400 billion coming in especially from these agencies as additional revenues.
“We need to do better. We need to make sure that the revenue agencies must submit revenue that they generate. We need to also invest in our people, education for our youth particularly and of course health.
“Distinguished colleagues, borrowing like most of us said is not bad. What we need to do is to ensure that what we borrow is prudently deployed to those areas of capital infrastructural development. The three Committees that are oil related, petroleum upstream, petroleum downstream and gas need to be very alert to implementation of the petroleum industry act. This is very important because this act that we passed here is to transform the petroleum industry.
At this formative stage of the transformation, there is need for us to be vigilant and oversight very closely to ensure that the taking-off is successful.
“Our oversight by Committees must be very purposely and at all times for the sole reason that government funds are prudently applied to the projects appropriated for,” he stated.