Yesterday, those who thought the Senate would pass the 2023 Appropriations Bill into law were let down.
The Senate, which did not pass the 2023 Appropriations bill as planned, blamed the Executive Arm of government for not only sending the budget proposal very late but also sending a bill with a lot of mistakes.
When the budget report wasn’t on the Order Paper for yesterday’s legislative activities, it was a strong sign that the senators weren’t going to pass the 2023 Budget.
Before Senator Ahmad Lawan, who is the President of the Senate, told everyone what was going on, the Senators went into a 15-minute Executive Session right after the plenary for the day started back up.
At a joint meeting on October 7, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari gave the National Assembly his plans for the N20.51 trillion budget for 2023.
Error-full budget proposals
The Senate will also skip its usual Christmas break so that lawmakers can work on President Buhari’s budget proposals for 2023, which were said to be full of mistakes.
After the budget proposals passed, the Senate was supposed to move on over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. However, the decision to move up the budget proposals has changed those plans.
Lawan said after the closed-door meeting that the 2023 Appropriations Bill can’t be passed on time because the Appropriations Committee couldn’t finish the budget report.
Lawan said that the executive branch of government was to blame for the budget proposal being late and full of mistakes. He said that the process of fixing the mistakes in the Appropriations bill was finished yesterday. He also said that the two chambers need to make sure that their copies are the same so that the report can be passed by both chambers on December 28, 2022.
Lawan said that the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the executive were working together to fix the mistakes in the budget before it was passed on Wednesday.
On January 1, the budget will go into effect.
Lawan also promised that the proposed budget would still start to be used on January 1, 2023.
Lawan said, “Today (yesterday), we were supposed to get the report from our Appropriation Committee for the 2023 Appropriation Bill and talk about it. But because of some problems, we can’t get the committee’s report. The main problem is that the Appropriation Bill came to the National Assembly with some problems. When our Appropriation Committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives started to compare the numbers of what we did and what was presented, the problems became very clear and weren’t easy to fix, so our committees had to start a process.
“Of course, the executive branch was also involved in that process, since the problems started there. It was only finished on Wednesday, and our committee secretariats can’t finish putting together the budget for us to take today, tomorrow, Saturday, or Sunday because it’s the holiday season. Monday and Tuesday are days off for everyone.
“Because of this, we can’t get the report and talk about it until December 28, 2022. That’s as soon as it can be, which is next week.
“So far, this 9th National Assembly has done a lot to pass the previous appropriation bills since 2019 before the end of the year, and I’m sure that this will be one of the things that people remember most about the Ninth National Assembly.
“So, by God’s grace, the Senate and the House of Representatives will all meet again on the 28th of this month to get the budget report from our committees and talk about it.
“Second, our Committee on Finance is holding a public hearing this morning (yesterday) on the Finance Bill 2022. Of course, the Appropriation Bill 2023 is built on the Finance Bill.
“Yesterday, we made plans for the Finance Committee to give a report on the Finance Bill Hearing today at 2 p.m. That’s not possible, of course. Because of this: We also got two letters yesterday. One was called “Supplemental Budget 2022,” and the other was called “Ways and Means.” So, the Bills for today will be taken care of by our Appropriations, Finance, Water Resources, Agriculture, and Works and Housing Committees.
“In this case, the Senate will end right away so that our committees can start doing what they’re supposed to do. This means that these reports will be available to us when we come back on December 28.
“And by God’s grace, December 28, 2022, will be a very busy day for us, but I’m sure we’ll be able to handle everything by Wednesday, and our colleagues who want to go home to celebrate with their families can still do so the next day.
“Let me tell the manager. When it comes to the Bills that have been sent to us, the Ways and Means, and the Supplementary Appropriation, anyone who is asked to come and explain, give information, or give any other details that the National Assembly needs to know must do so, because it is not just our job to do this.
“We want to do our work well, we want to understand what we’re dealing with, and we want to make decisions based on facts, but time is running out.”