• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Again, Senate moves to establish independent budget office for NASS

The Nigerian Senate has resumed the moves to establish an independent budget office for the National Assembly.

A bill seeking to establish the National Assembly Budget and Research Office scaled second reading during Senate plenary on Thursday. The bill titled “A Bill for an Act to Establish National Assembly Budget and Research Office, is to provide the National Assembly with objective, timely and non-partisan analysis needed for economic and budget decisions; and for related matters, 2024 (SB.345). It is sponsored by Jibrin Barau, by deputy president of the Senate.

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The lawmakers argued that the budget office will, among others, scrutinise budget estimates of the executive, and monitor implementation of annual budget estimates.

They added that the National Assembly budget office will not conflict with the existing national budget office, but will bring technical experts and consultants that will review the proposal of the Federal Government, and guide lawmakers on the basics of budget.

While the majority of the lawmakers voted in favour of the bill, a few others queried it. Adams Oshiomhole, a senator representing Edo North, argued that establishing a budget office was not necessary. He also noted that it would be a contradiction of the efforts of the Federal Government to cut the cost of governance.

He equally noted that the budget of the National Assembly was already too heavy.

“President Tinubu has collapsed some agencies; for us to arise from this chamber to create another institution means the Federal Government is contracting while we are expanding”, he said.

But before he could finish his comment, he was interrupted by Tahir Monguno, a senator representing, Borno North, who raised a point of order and urged Oshiomhole to take back his comment, describing it as irrelevant.

His point of order was sustained by the deputy Senate president who presided over the plenary.

Oshiomhole, however, argued that the Senate already has a committee on appropriation that can play the role of the proposed budget office.

Eteng Williams, a senator representing Cross River Central, estimated that the National Assembly loses $2 billion annually for failing to pass the bill.

BusinessDay gathered that there had been several unsuccessful attempts to pass this bill into law. The bill was conceived in 2005 under former Senate president, Ken Nnamani but failed to make it to the floor of the upper chamber.

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During the sixth Senate presided over by David Mark, the bill did not receive the required support for its introduction.

The bill was first introduced on the floor of the 7th Senate under Senate President David Mark and sponsored by Victor Ndoma-Egba, the then-Senate leader. However, during the 8th Senate, it was successfully passed but didn’t receive assent by former President Muhammadu Buhari.