Timely Passage Of 2020 Budgets


The timely passage of both the 2020 Federal and Akwa Ibom State budgets by the National Assembly and the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly respectively last week in just about two months is a milestone in the nation’s budget cycle and raises hope of better implementation.

It could be recalled that both budgets were separately submitted on October 8 this year as Appropriation bills to the legislative arms for considerations and approval as part of a conscious and determined efforts to return to the hitherto budget lifespan of January to December.

The early considerations and timely passage shows a remarkable and commendable departure from the immediate past practice where it usually took almost half of the year to pass a budget that has only a I2-month lifespan.

Perhaps for the first time after so many years, both the executive and the legislature are working in tandem for the overall interest of the nation and state. At the federal level such harmony has not been seen between the two arms of government for years before now.

However, in spite of the synergy, the two legislative bodies are no rubber stamps. Far from it. Rather they seemingly worked dispassionately on the budgets and made adjustments where necessary. For example in the case of the Federal budget, the National Assembly increased it from the N10.33trillion submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari to N10.59trillion, an increase of N264billion. But in Akwa Ibom State, it was a different stroke as the House of Assembly in fact, reduced the Appropriation Bill which Governor Udom Emmanuel had presented.

In both scenarios, it was about the beauty of democracy. Patriotism was in the air as Nigerians worked consciously to ensure easy passage of the budget by religiously going through the rigorous process of budget defence. President Buhari’s directive banning ministers from foreign trip ensured that they were available and present to defend their respective sectoral estimates as captured in the Appropriation Bills.

Many Nigerians have applauded the early passage of the budgets, having realised the benefits that will accrue from it. Likewise will the international community find it easy to do business with Nigeria when the budget run a January to December timetable. Already the World Bank has advocated early passage of budget not later than December of each year. As incentive to encourage compliance, the World Bank has instituted a S3million awards to governments which comply with the directives. That being the case, the the Federal Goverment and the Akwa Ibom Government will receive each the World Bank’s award.

As already said, the passage of the budgets this time around has shown the beauty of democracy. The 9th National Assembly has indicated by its action that it is ready to leave out partisanship and work for the interest of the nation. In the immediate past years, partisanship must have played major negative influence in stalling early approval of budgets.

In akwa Ibom, the 7th House of Assembly also deserve huge commendation for the timely scrutiny and subsequent approval of the appropriation Bill submitted by Governor Emmanuel. The Assembly obviously by its action craves of a speedy development of the state.

It is strongly hoped that the executive will expediently sign the budgets into law and ensure they are implemented to the letter. With this development, it is hoped that Nigerians will begin to see more progress especially in the development of infrastructure and services.

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