The Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, on Monday, called on the executive to ensure the quick submission of the 2020 to 2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) to the National Assembly.
Gbajabiamila, who made the call when he received the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, in his office in Abuja, said the move would help to bring back the budgeting process to the 12-year calendar cycle.
Our correspondent reports that MTEF is an annual, rolling three-year expenditure plan and contains outcome criteria for the purpose of performance monitoring.
”Part of the reforms which we are seeking to achieve is that we would want a situation where before we go on break, in the next two or three weeks, the MTEF is submitted to this House so that we can pass the MTEF before we go on a long break.
”And when we come back in September, maybe within a week, we would have the budget before us because by Finance laws, the budget is based on the MTEF.
”We don’t want to rush everything at the end of the day when budget is brought in December. So this is the timetable we have set.
”We want the MTEF to be submitted in the next two or three weeks, go over it, work on it and pass it before we go on our long break and when we come back in September, you present the budget to us.
”And what does that do? It leaves us with three months to pass the budget.
”And what does that do? It brings us back to the cycle that has been evasive of January to December so that by January 1, we have passed the budget.
”This way, we are back to that full cycle calendar year as envisage in the constitution.
”So we will want you to help us with this process,” he said.
The speaker, who said that the input of the lawmakers cannot be overemphasised in budget passage, said timely budget presentation would go a long way to tackling the perennial problems that come with budget debate.
While enumerating the demands of the 9th parliament, he said the National Assembly was in need of an international standard library to help make the legislative work easier.
”We need a world class or international standard library.
He said it was disheartening that Nigeria, with its position In Africa, did not have an international standard library.
”It is unfortunate that we have to say this and we have been all over the and these are the tools of our trade,” he said.
According to him, these are what we need to have a robust legislature; a fully-equipped international standard library.
”So we will be needing your intervention in this regard. We will need to make the House fully I.T compliant also,” he said.
The speaker noted that it was surprising that getting access to internet connectivity in the National Assembly was a problem.
”And how do you work if you don’t have these things on your finger tips?” he asked.
He, however, said that as part of the reforms of the present House, efforts had been made to upgrade the internet connectivity of the lower chamber.
””I’m glad to announce that by tomorrow when we resume sitting, one of our reforms would have been in place; the chamber now is more or less 80 per cent I.T compliant,” he said.
Gbajabiamila, who said the National Assembly building was presently at a sorry state, urged that the maintenance of the building should be handed over to the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).
”As it is today, the building is almost collapsing. The maintenance is at zero level,” he said.
The speaker, who attributed the present state of the building to funding challenge, said if handed over back to the FCTA, it would be more easier to maintain.
He hinted that the legislature would be coming to the executive with a shopping list that would make its work easier.
”And your office is very critical to actualising these legislative agenda that we have set for ourselves,” he said.
He pledged a more robust legislative-executive relationship.
Earlier, Mustapha, who congratulated the speaker on his election, said his visit was aimed at ensuring the cordial relationship between the two arms of government towards delivering the dividend of democracy to Nigerians
He acknowledged that although ”the executive brings estimates to the National Assembly, the powers of appropriation as provided for by Section 80, 81 and 82 of the Constitution is vested in the National Assembly.
”You will appropriate and authorise expenditure from the consolidated revenue Formula of the federation and that is the only way we can expect money for the good of the people of Nigeria,” he said.
According to him, our relationship is symbiotic and it is mutually beneficial if we will work together.
He, however, pledged that the executive would not hesitate to give its support where necessary.