N’Assembly Committees Continue 2020 Budget Scrutiny Today

. President Muhammadu Buhari addressing the Lawmakers during the presentation of 2019 Budget at a joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja

*  To hold two-day public hearing from Wednesday

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The National Assembly committees will today continue with the scrutiny of the 2020 N10.33 trillion budget with some ministers and heads of federal agencies appearing before some of the committees to defend the budget estimates for their Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

The federal assembly, as part of programmes line up for the consideration of the budget, will next Wednesday and Thursday hold a public hearing on the 2020 Appropriation Bill.

The MDAs’ budget defence, which commenced last Wednesday will resume today with the Defence Ministry concluding its three-day submission before the Senate committee on Defence headed by former Governor of Sokoto State, Senator Aliyu Wammako, in Senate committee room 120 by 11a.m.

The Defence Ministry top officials led by the Minister, Major General Bashir Magasi (rtd), had in the course of its budget defence since last Wednesday, stressed the need to adequately fund the ministry because of the security challenges facing the country, and the need for the military to rise up to the task.

Sources told THISDAY that the joint National Assembly committee on Defence was told by the Defence Minister and the three service chiefs that if adequate funds are made available to the three services namely: Army, Navy and Air Force, the security challenges, especially the issue of Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east region, wuld become a thing of the past.

A ranking senator from the Northeast, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told THISDAY that “today’s meeting by the committee with the military chiefs is to look critically at the issue of funding as well as the high level of insecurity in the country and the role of the military in addressing the issue.”

He stated that at the end of today’s meeting “the joint committee will make necessary recommendation especially in the area of insufficient funding of the military to the joint National Assembly Committee on Appropriation that will vet it before presenting it to the Assembly next month.”

Also today, the Senate Committee on Education (basic and secondary) headed by former Governor of Yobe State, Senator Ibrahim Geidam, will hold a two-day budget defence session with the Minister of Education and heads of education parastatals to defend the budget proposal of the ministry in the Senate conference room 022 by 11a.m. today and Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, will tomorrow appear before the Senator Suleiman Kwari-led Senate Committee on Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes to defend the Commission’s 2020 budget estimate by 12 noon in Senate conference room 231.

By Wednesday, the National  Assembly is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the 2020 Appropriation Bill with all stakeholders in both the public and private sectors being invited to make inputs into the budget proposal presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on October 8.

The session slated for 10a.m. in the Senate conference room 231 to be presided over by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Barau Jibrin, will have in attendance the Chairman of the National Assembly, who is the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan;  Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; all the16 principal officers of the National Assembly, ministers, captains of industry, labour leaders, market leaders, students among others.

The Appropriation Committee will at the end of the public hearing collate contributions from the stakeholders to form part of their report to the two chambers of the National Assembly next month.