…as lawmakers cancel public hearing on appropriation bill
The Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Appropriations are expected to turn in their report on the 2021 Appropriation Bill on Thursday.
It was learnt that some standing committees have, however, yet to submit their reports on the ministries, departments and agencies.
The National Assembly would also not be holding a public hearing on the money bill this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our correspondent learnt that the Committees on Appropriations, which were to compile and harmonise the reports by the standing committees (sub-committees), were to lay their joint report on December 3, while the Senate and the House were to consider and pass the report on December 10.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, had on October 20, said, “Everything has to be rounded off by December 3rd.”
However, Gbajabiamila had on November 24, decried that no fewer than 40 standing committees had yet to present their reports to the House Committee on Appropriations.
The National Assembly had on October 22 adjourned sittings for standing committees to hold budget defence sessions with MDAs on their proposed 2021 budgets.
The standings committees serve as sub-committee to the appropriation committee during budget process. The sub-committees were to start submitting their reports on November 18.
Speaking to our correspondent on Monday, the Vice-Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, Iduma Igariwey, said, “The public hearing was aborted because of the COVID-19 situation; that was the main reason. It was difficult to find space that will contain the number of people we usually invite.
“We even thought of doing it via Zoom or whatever means but we also lack the facility to conduct that kind of public hearing.
“We even contemplated using the chamber but we concluded it was completely impossible to use the chamber for a public hearing. That was the main reason and no other reason. It is not going to be held again for this year because of this same reason.”
Speaking on budget reports, Igariwey said, “As of last Friday, I will say that a good number of the committees had submitted their reports to the Appropriations Committee.
“I think the most important thing; the take-home is that the National Assembly is likely going to turn in the budget for the President’s consent as required by the Constitution before the end of the year.”
When asked to confirm the information that the joint Senate and House Committees on Appropriations were to lay their reports on December 3, while the National Assembly would pass the budget on December 10, Igariwey declined to confirm the specific dates.
“To be honest, I cannot give you an answer to the specific dates because even when the committees submit to the Appropriations Committee, we still have a lot of work because we are going to consider reports from the two chambers.
“There is still going to be a lot of communications between the executive and the legislature in terms of clarifying certain issues.”