Contrary to insinuations in some quarters that the passage of the 2016 Appropriation Bill has been suspended indefinitely, Leader of the Senate, Sen Ali Ndume yesterday said that the Senate would endeavour to pass the 2016 Budget before the end of March which is the deadline for implementation of the 2015 Budget.
Senator Ndume, who was fielding questions from journalists in Abuja, said that contrary to the earlier stand of the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Appropriation that the passage of the budget has been suspended indefinitely, he said that though the February 25 may not be feasible again, the budget would, however, be passed before March ending.
According to him, it was the wish of the National Assembly to pass the budget five weeks before the expiration of 2015 Budget implementation but due to some errors, it was now almost impossible.
We have not postponed it indefinitely; we are saying that with the developments in the consideration of the budget and as time goes on, the February 25 deadline we gave ourselves may not be realistic.
“That is why we now said that going by this, it is not possible to say we will come back on 25th and say this is the budget, but we are not saying that we have suspended it indefinitely.
“The reason we fixed 25th was because we wanted to have a gap of five weeks.
If there are issues here or there that still needs to be fixed before the expiration of the 2015 Budget implementation by March 31, we will finish it.
“We have a time frame and that is the determination to get the budget out as soon as possible and by the grace of God, we will pass it before end of March.”
He said that the leadership of the National Assembly had met with Ministers to iron out the grey areas and make cor-rections to the contentious areas as well.
The Leader of the Senate also assured that the Senate would ensure strict compliance with the implementation of the budget.
He said that once funds were available, he was convinced that the present administration would implement the budget to the end.
According to Ndume: “This is the first time that the budget process is truthful, frank and honest and interactive: yesterday we had a long meeting with the ministers looking at the realities and challenges.