The Senate yesterday resolved to start debate on the N8.83 trillion 2019 budget today three months after its presentation to the joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Senate, however, postponed final consideration of the N30,000 minimum wage to Tuesday next week on the grounds that the chairman of the ad-hoc committee on the minimum wage bill, Senator Olusola Adeyeye (APC, Osun Central), was absent from plenary.
The president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, announced the commencement of the debate on the 2019 budget principles just before ruling on motion for the suspension of plenary, which was moved by Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe North).
Saraki had told colleagues to get ready for the commencement of debate on general principles of the 2019 budget today.
He said, “Senators are by this notice informed to get prepared for the debate and indicate their intension for that through the Clerk .
“Apart from the budget, I will also want the ad-hoc committee on minimum wage to complete its work this week and submit the report to the Senate on Tuesday next week unfailingly.
“In getting this done, since the chairman of the committee, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, has travelled out, the deputy whip of the Senate, Senator Francis Alimekhena (APC, Edo North), should please take over the chairmanship of the committee and get the report submitted on Tuesday next week. “
He then suspended plenary and other parliamentary activities in honour of Hon Temitope Olatoye who was killed in Ibadan during the election on Saturday, a tradition in the National Assembly when a lawmaker dies.
LEADERSHIP recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Wednesday, 19th December, 2018 , presented the budget estimates and appealed to the federal lawmakers for expeditious consideration and passage towards returning the country to January-December yearly budgetary cycle to make for clear-cut measurement and assessment of its implementation on quarterly basis .
A similar appeal was also made by the president to the federal lawmakers on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, when he presented N8.6trillion 2018 budget proposals to them, which was later jerked up to N9.12trillion seven months after, precisely in May last year, when it was eventually passed .
For the 2019 budget, three months after its presentation , neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives has passed the budget for second reading which will give room for defence sessions between the various standing committees at both chambers and heads of the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
As it is now, the federal lawmakers in both the Senate and the House of Representatives have just five weeks left to consider, pass and transmit the Appropriation Bill for presidential assent before the expiration of his current tenure on May 28, 2019.