Govt shutdown looms over 2017 budget
A major constitutional crisis is looming over the 2017 budget, if the National Assembly fails to pass it on or before Friday, multiple sources close to the legislature have told Daily Sun.
The 2016 budget, which has its lifespan, specifically the capital expenditure, will expire Friday, thereby, placing huge encumbrances to government spending.
The Federal government has never experienced a shutdown since the beginning of the Fourth Republic as it has always wriggled out of budget crisis before the constitutionally approved period.
But the 2017 budget process, which has already stretched through the constitutionally allowed window, could run the government into a shutdown this month.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje had said shortly before the lawmakers proceeded on Easter break that the budget would be ready before May 5, to beat the deadline provided by the 2016 Appropriation Act, which was signed into law on May 6, 2016.
Section 82 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended provides that the government of the federation can draw from funds in the Consolidated Revenue if the budget is not ready for a period not exceeding six months or the coming into operation of the Appropriation Act.
Section 82 reads: “If the Appropriation Bill in respect of any financial year has not been passed into law by the beginning of the financial year, the president may authorise the withdrawal of moneys in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation for the purpose of meeting expenditure necessary to carry on the services of the Government of the Federation for a period not exceeding six months or until the coming into operation of the Appropriate Act, whichever is the earlier.
“Provided the withdrawal in respect of any such period shall not exceed the amount authorised to be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation under the provisions of the Appropriation Act passed by the National Assembly for the corresponding period in the immediately preceding financial year, being an amount proportionate to the total amount so authorised for the immediately preceding financial year.”
Investigations revealed that although the law permits the government to spend revenue up to six months, there is no guarantee that the President can assent the new budget in the next one month.
“Even if the budget is passed this week, there is no guarantee that the executive will not pick issues with the document as it has always happened, and then the issues would drag for upward of two months,” a lawmaker who could not be quoted as he was not officially mandated to speak for the committee said.
Efforts at reaching the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjume Goje were unsuccessful on Sunday as calls to his numbers were not picked.
Senate spokesman, Senator Sabi Abdullahi could also not be reached through his telephone numbers.
But another lawmaker who spoke in confidence clarified that it is actually possible the budget is passed this week, adding however that the president usually has 30 days to assent to bills or veto them.
“If that happens, the whole constitutionally allowed window of six months would have been exhausted,” the lawmaker said. Source: Daily Sun