A bill seeking to make the January-December budget cycle mandatory has passed the second reading at the house of representatives.

Sponsored by Tajudeen Abbas, a lawmaker from Kaduna, the proposed legislation seeks to define the budget cycle and timeline for implementation.

Nigeria’s budget cycle, specifically between 2016 and 2018, was a subject of controversy because of the late signing into law of the appropriation bills.

For instance, President Muhammadu Buhari had presented the 2017 budget to the national assembly in November of that year, but it was not passed until June 2018.

However, from 2019 to date, the legislative arm and the executive have been able to maintain the January-December budget cycle.

Leading the debate on the bill during plenary on Thursday, Abbas said the constitution only mentions fiscal year for budget implementation but does not define it.

The lawmaker told his colleagues that all laws relating to financial regulations “deal with one aspect or the other of the budget process; none of them comprehensively addresses the processes and procedure of passing the annual appropriation act”.

“In other words, Nigeria does not have an organic budget law that focuses on the planning, preparation, passage and execution of the annual budget of the federation. It is this void that this bill is intended to fill,” he said.

“The constitution is also silent on the responsibility of the executive arm or the legislative arm on the various stages of the budget process. It is these gaps that this bill is intended to bridge.

“The importance of this bill cannot be overemphasised. The benefits include defining the budget cycle and timeline for each stage. The budget cycle in Nigeria is from January to December; that is reinforced in the bill.”

The lawmaker added that the bill will make the participation of stakeholders in the budget process mandatory to reflect the aspirations of the government and the citizens.

“Just like any other act of the national assembly, for the appropriation act to realise its goals, it must pass the test of public scrutiny. The bill makes provisions that will allow stakeholders to engage with the budget process at earlier stages of the budget process,” Abbas added.

Written By Obioma Ezenwobodo Esq

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