Reps adjourn abruptly to discuss 2017 budget
• Lawmakers give FIRS deadline to supply procurement documents
• ‘FG may lose constitutional backing for employment, others after May 5’
The House of Representatives yesterday adjourned abruptly after attending to few issues of national importance for about 30 minutes to discuss the 2017 budget.
A member of the House, Mr. Johnson Agbonayinman said the adjournment had to do with ensuring the timely passage of the 2017 Appropriation Act.
The lawmaker, who represents Egor /Ikpoba/Okha Federal Constituency of Edo State noted: “We are all concerned about the budget because we are the representatives of Nigerians. We want to make sure the budget sees the light of the day. If there are other reasons, I don’t know for now.”
He said the May 5 deadline earlier fixed by the House for the passage of the budget would not be realistic since there was the need to do a thorough job on it.
However, the lawmakers at the plenary session, presided by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, also adopted the motion sponsored by Hajia Aishatu Jibril Dukku (Gombe, APC) on the urgent need to address the high rate of HIV infections at the Internally-Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in the North-East.
Meanwhile, a member of the House, Gafar Amere, yesterday said the Federal Government would be unable to carry out social intervention programmes after May 5 this year if the 2017 budget is not passed into law.
Amere (APC, Osun) said on that date in which the 12-month life-span of 2016 budget would have elapsed, the government would no longer have constitutional powers to hire workforce and implement social intervention schemes contained in the 2016 budget.
These schemes, Amere said, include budgeted payment of stipends to unemployed young graduates.
Other unsavoury effects of delayed passage of the 2017 appropriation, the lawmaker said, might be inability of government to initiate trainings and new projects, except completing those that are ongoing.
In another development, the lower chamber has issued a seven-day ultimatum to the authorities of the Federal Inland Revenue (FIRS) to submit relevant documents relating to procurement of several items in recent time.
Chairman of the House Committee on Public Procurement, Mr. Oluwole Oke, who gave the directive, accused the FIRS of frustrating the probe into its procurement processes by refusing to submit relevant documents to the committee.
He said the refusal of the agency to submit the required documents is already stalling the commencement of the investigative hearing.
Also, the Deputy Minority Leader of the House, Mr. Chukwuka Onyema, who sponsored the motion, alleged that the FIRS awarded a contract to Active Solutions Integrated Synergy Limited (ASISL) for the ‘’deployment of revenue monitoring solutions on telecommunication companies five days after the company was incorporated.