The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has called for a return to the January-December budgetary cycle, saying that it made no sense for the budgetary year to keep overlapping into succeeding year as has become the norm in the country.

Senator Ekweremadu spoke today during Senate plenary while making inputs into the status of the 2018 budget that is pending before both chambers of the national Assembly.

“We cannot continue to running the country like this. The budgetary year is supposed to run from January to December, but it has been distorted over time and now our budget sometimes run up to March; even this year, the 2017 budget is running up to May 2018 and it doesn’t make any sense.

“If we start retracing our steps, we may still go back to the January to December cycle and that is what we should be able to achieve, and the best way to do it is to start reducing the budgetary year, which has been making a lot of incursions into succeeding years,” he said.

Senator Ekweremadu suggested that Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, MDAs, that have been deliberately stalling the processing and consideration of the budget by failing to appear before relevant committees to defend their budget proposals should have their estimates presented by the President to the National Assembly adopted as their respective budgets for the country to move ahead.

“I think it has come to a stage where we have to consider taking what was already presented by the President for those MDAs as the position of the MDAs instead of waiting for them forever.

“We have given them sufficient notice. I think, about three weeks ago, in this same Senate, we gave them the opportunity to come to make this a priority, but it seems to me that, that has not happened. So, instead of all of us suffering; the country suffering, then, it is better in the circumstance for us to give them an additional few more days and after that, the relevant committees will adopt what was sent to us by the President as the position of the relevant MDAs so that these will be finally collated by the Appropriations Committee. Then we come here and pass the budget,” he concluded.

Responding to the Senate President’s enquiry on the position of the budget, The Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Sunny Ogbuoji had earlier explained that most of the sub-committees were facing challenges as most of the MDAs were not coming forward to interface with them, hence making it difficult for the Appropriation Committee to come up with a comprehensive report.

In his summation, the President of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, regretted the unwillingness of MDAs to interface with relevant sub-committees to enable them submit their reports to the Appropriation Committee to enable it conclude work on the Appropriation Bill.

He observed that such was responsible for the apparent public misconception that legislative arm delays the passing of the budget.

Senator Saraki, therefore, urged the MDAs to sit up and accord the budget the priority it deserved to enable the National Assembly consider and pass the 2018 budget immediately.