The Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Appropriations are expected to begin a three-day detailed public hearing on the 2017 budget today, February 13, 2017.
The public hearing is aimed at assisting efforts towards improving transparency in the N7.28 trillion proposed 2017 budget – presented by President Muhammadu Buhari last year.
It is understood that about 59 stakeholders are expected to submit memoranda.
The stakeholders include the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, Civil Societies, and other groups.
Presentations at the hearing are expected to focus on the basic recommendations and budget policies of the president as contained in the budget speech by the president, and the fiscal, financial and economic assumptions used as basis in arriving at total estimated expenditure and receipts.
Earlier this year, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, had pledged to ensure that the 2017 budget process is transparent.
“We would ensure that the procedure and process of consideration and passage of the 2017 budget is transparent, inclusive and professionally handled.
“The details of the budget should be debated and passed in plenary to avoid those needless pitfalls that normally characterise the budget process,” he had said.
Also, the spokesperson of the House, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, while briefing journalists on Sunday explained that some news reports have given the impression that the hearing is being held by the Senate alone.
“It is important to note that the House of Representatives holds the power of appropriation, while the senate holds the power of confirmation.”
“People will be able to provide their opinions and at the end we will have a budget,” he said.
The decision to subject the 2017 budget to public debate may have been informed by the scandal which trailed the 2016 budget, following allegations of ‘insertions’ and ‘budget fraud’ raised by the former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Jibrin Abdulmumin.
While the Senate seeks public review of the 2017 budget, it has refused to provide details of its own budget.
The Senate President Bukola Saraki, also the chairman of the National Assembly, has refused to honour repeated promises to Nigerians to publicly disclose the details of the lawmakers’ budget.