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Non-submission of budget estimates: Senate imposes jail term, fine on defaulters

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Senate President, Lawan. Photo: TWITTER/SPNIGERIA

The Senate is processing a new law to mete out stiff penalties against heads of all revenue-generating agencies of the Federal Government, who default in submitting estimates of their agencies’ annual budgets to the National Assembly.

The Senate bill seeks to bring a permanent legislative solution to nagging issues of non-submission of budgetary planning of corporations, including details of their revenues and expenditure.

It was learned that the Bill would be given accelerated consideration to enable the President assent to it, upon his return to the country next week.

Since Nigeria re-embraced democracy over 20 years ago, the failure of revenue agencies to submit budget estimates to the National Assembly, as dictated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, had caused serious face-off between the executive arm of government and the National Assembly.

A copy of the new Bill obtained by The Guardian amends the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which mandated some 31 agencies, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the) Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to prepare estimates of their revenues and expenditures and submit same to the National Assembly yearly.

Sponsored by Senator Stella Odua (PDP, Anambra State), the Bill, which will be debated next week on the floor of the Senate, specifically states that “Any person who contravenes the provisions of subsections (1), (2) and (3) is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of Two Million Naira or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or both.”

The Bill seeks to severely punish non-compliance to section 21 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act tagged “Preparation of estimates of revenue and expenditures by corporations, etc.”

The section reads: “The government corporations and agencies and government-owned companies listed in the Schedule to this Act (in this Act referred to as “the Corporations”) shall, not later than 6 months from the commencement of 
this Act and every three financial years thereafter, and not later than the end of the second quarter of every year, cause to be prepared and submitted to the Minister their Schedule estimates of revenue and expenditure for the next three financial years…

During the Abubakar Saraki-led 8th Senate, the matter of non-submission of Budget Estimates by agencies was largely responsible for the strained relationship with the executive arm of government.

Saraki had, at a point, submitted that the flagrant disrespect for existing laws guiding expenditure by the agencies was weakening the fight against corruption.

The Fiscal responsibility Act, among other things, establishes the Fiscal responsibility Commission charged 
with the responsibility of monitoring and enforcing the provisions of the Act to ensure 
greater accountability, transparency, and prudence in the management of the nation’s 
resources by the Federal Government, government-owned corporations or companies
and agencies, among others.


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