N’Assembly seeks extension of Budget 2017 till May 31

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The national assembly is seeking to extend the 2017 budget to May 31, Mustapha Dawaki, chairman of the House of Representatives committee on appropriation, has said.

Speaking at a two-day public hearing on the 2018 budget, Dawaki said a letter has been written to Ahmed Idris, accountant-general of the federation (AGF), asking him not close the budget account.

Dawaki said 2017 budget would stop functioning once the 2018 budget is passed by the national assembly and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Last week, the lower legislative chamber said it would pass the 2018 budget on April 24.

“We are told that the office of the accountant-general is expected to close the account as at March ending,” he said.

“We have written a letter yesterday, drawing his attention to the fact that the budget should be extended to May 31 but if the passage of the budget as at April 24 is done and gets the president’s assent, whichever comes earlier. The accountant-general should also strictly adhere to the contents of the letter.

“Contractors should continue working, budget account will not be closed until budget is passed and accepted by the president or until the 31 of May, 2018.”

Earlier, Senate President Bukola Saraki, while declaring the hearing open, said the country needs to prioritise development of human capital.

“We acknowledge Nigeria’s huge infrastructural deficit, as well as the need to expand planned expenditure. However, you will agree with me that, while it is important to achieve equity and balance in the spread of development projects around the country, we must also prioritise human capital development,” Saraki said.

“It is in this vein that the national assembly will prioritise expenditure on critical health and education facilities as well as soft infrastructure.”

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