Work begins on 2010-12 spending plan
And, buoyed by the efforts of the Federal Government at resolving the problem of insurgency in the Niger Delta, the 36 governors have agreed to support the move to raise more money for the rehabilitation and re-integration of militants.
The letter forwarding the MTEF to the federal lawmakers which was read by Senate President, David Mark, stated in part: “I am pleased to forward to you two copies of the 2010/2012 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) which the Federal Ministry of Finance has prepared in line with the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007.
“The Fiscal Responsibility Act indicates that the budget is required to be based on the MTEF, which is to be approved by the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly before taking effect. The MTEF was duly approved by FEC on the 22nd July, 2009. However, the Act requires that the MTEF should also be laid before the National Assembly, which after due consideration is to pass resolutions in both Houses to give effect to the MTEF before its formal publication in the gazette.”
And answering reporters’ questions regarding the 2010 budget at the end of its session, the Senate’s spokesman and chairman of its Information and Media Committee, Ayogu Eze, assured that the senators would “do everything within our legislative responsibility to ensure a thorough job and that it is not a ‘bow and go budget’ as some people are thinking.
“I think that part of the process is what the President did today by submitting the medium term expenditure framework which is what is required by the Fiscal Responsibility Act as a precursor to the budget. Consultations are going on at different levels and I think that the general engagement of the committees will soon start now that we have gotten this memo from the President. I think that so far it is on course even though I believe that the budget Bill should have come earlier than now.”
On whether the National Assembly can pass the budget before the end of this year, Eze said: “No. it depends on the time the Executive branch submits the budget to us. I think that for now, that question is premature in the Legislature; that question should go to the Executive branch.”
The lawmaker also provided explanations on the extent of work in the amendment of the constitution saying that the Constitution Review Committee of the Senate invited the chairman of the Ghanaian electoral committee to brief it on how Ghana was able to break the jinx.
His words: “What we did was to extend an invitation to the head of electoral commission in Ghana to come and address us in our retreats and give us insight into the Ghana perspective because people have been talking about what Ghana has achieved and we thought that since we are doing a reform of the electoral process we can also borrow a leaf from Ghana.”
Eze also declared that the Senate was determined to ensure the success of the constitution review.
He added: “It is not correct that we are doing it alone. We are doing it and the House of Representatives is doing it. We are doing it together and I did tell you that which ever way it happened, whether we go and treat it separately in the chambers or sit in a joint committee, at the end of the day we must sit as the National Assembly to produce one purified and agreeable version. As to whether it will pass in the life of the Senate, we are doing everything possible and we have lined up a number of activities to ensure this. The retreat in Kaduna will be followed by public hearing here and in the various zones and other activities to ensure that we get a unified document that will be in the interest of our people.”
The governors declared their position after a meeting on Monday night on efforts by the National Assembly to pass extra budget to help former militants to be rehabilitated and re-integrated.
In a statement at the close of the meeting under the aegis of the Governors’ Forum, they affirmed that the Federal Government and the helmsmen of the South-South states deserved commendation.
The statement reads in part: “While noting this historic movement towards peace and reconciliation by the Federal Government which has resulted in the disarmament and demobilisation, members called for support for the next phase of this process: Rehabilitation and the reintegration. The Forum further called on the Federal Government to treat kidnapping with the same level of seriousness it deserves.
“The Forum agreed that it would give support to efforts by the National Assembly to pass extra budgetary provision to help former militants in their efforts to be rehabilitated and re-integrated. As a mark of solidarity to the Niger Delta, members unanimously resolved to host its next meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.”
According to the statement, the Forum resolved further:
- To support the Minister of Health in the implementation of a vector control programme designed to eradicate malaria. Members also noted funding options available for this programme and agreed to support efforts to source for funds from local stakeholders. Also noted was the ongoing success of the Polio Eradication Campaign (in the past three weeks, only one Nigerian child has been paralyzed by polio). Polio distribution in 2008 and 2009 have significantly improved; and
- to support the Federal Government’s Midwives Service Scheme (MSS) under the Primary Healthcare Sector, which was designed to address maternal and infant mortality through the distribution of midwives at primary healthcare centres around the country.”
The Governors’ Forum noted the clarifications made by the Executive Secretary to Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and agreed that the way forward was for every state to put in place the following: An action plan, the counterpart funding, and a functional board. Once all three requirements have been met, the states can access their funds within 24 hours.
After a briefing by one of their members, the Forum commended progress made by the leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government.
While thanking the President for his support in resolving the impasse and ASUU for its role, the Forum expressed optimism that the strike would be called off before the end of this week.
The governors noted that states were discussing the Teachers’ Salary Scheme (TSS) and hoped that before the end of the year, all states would begin to implement it.