The National Assembly is contemplating amending the 1999 Constitution to redefine what constitutes a financial year to aid in the strict implementation of the Appropriation Act by the federal government.
House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara disclosed this Tuesday, while giving the vote of thanks after the presentation of the 2016 budget before a joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Dogara, who said that the proposed amendment will be effected after due consultation with the executive, maintained that a budget can only be measured by how well it is implemented, rather than by what is contained in the budget.
Accordingly, he said that the National Assembly will diligently scrutinize the budget proposals before passing the budget into law in good time to facilitate its early implementation.
“In this regard and in order to aid Mr President to execute and implement the budget, it may be necessary to take a second look at the constitutional definition of a financial year.
“Section 318 of the constitution defines a financial year to mean any period of 12 months beginning on the first day of January in any year or such other date as the National Assembly may prescribe.
“The National Assembly, going forward, may need therefore, to prescribe another date as the financial year in line with provisions of Section 318 of the constitution, whenever the budget is not passed before January 1 in any given year. The letter and spirit of the constitution requires that the financial year shall not be less than 12 months. The date of commencement of the financial year may change but not the 12 months period”, the speaker declared.
He added that if the proposed amendment is passed, it may become imperative that the 2016 budget may commence 12 months from the date it is signed into law by the president, as according to him, the “budget may have a realistic chance of implementation when the executive has 12 uninterrupted months to execute it”.
Dogara said the change agenda of the Buhari administration can only be realized for the benefit of the Nigerians when the policies and programmes of government are faithfully executed.
Furthermore, the speaker said recent developments especially the arms scandal have proven that legislative oversight must include, not just project implementation but also the security and sanctity of unspent budgeted funds.
“On our part and in the spirit of change that has come to this legislature, we promise Nigerians to hold Mr. President to every word, line and provision of the budget when passed and assented to”, he said.