The Senate on Wednesday ordered the Federal Ministry of Finance to allow the 2017 Budget run till May 31 instead of March 31.
The resolution followed the adoption of a Point-of-Order raised by Sen. Atai Aidoko.
Relying on Order 43 of the Senate Rules, Aidoko queried the constitutional power of the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, to end the 2017 Appropriation Law on March 31.
He alleged that the minister issued a Circular, indicating intention to end the lifespan of the 2017 Budget at the end of March, contrary to the provision of the Appropriation Act.
According to Aidoko, the Minister of Finance passed a Circular, directing Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs) to mop up 2017 budget funds by March 31, 2018.
“This means that the implementation of the Act should end in March and would amount to violation of the provisions of the Act.
“The circular was causing panic in the system because some agencies got their releases last week; one would wonder when they will utilise the funds before March 31.
“2017 Appropriation Act, signed in May, 2017, clearly states in Section 11 that in line with Section 318 of 1999 Constitution (as amended), the Act should run for 12 months starting from the date it is assented to.
“By this provision, it means that the budget circle of 2017 should run from May, 2017 to the end of May, 2018.
“Now, there is a circular that monies should be mopped up on March 31; the danger about this is that some agencies just got money for special projects only last week.
“Some contracts have not even been awarded, so, how can they award contracts and the monies be utilised before March 31.
“I am bringing this to the attention of this Senate so that it will resolve to direct the agencies and the Minister of Finance to rescind this circular and let the budget work according to the Appropriation Act,’’ Aidoko said.
In his remark, President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, said that the minister had no powers to take such decision.
He directed the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, to write to the minister and ask her to drop the idea.
Saraki said, “the Minister of Finance has not got the powers to say that accounts should close by March.
“Since the Chairman of Appropriation Committee is not here, the Chairman, Finance Committee should communicate to the Minister of Finance and all agencies that the budget was passed to run for 12 months and it must run 12 months.
“The issue of mopping up at the end of March is not acceptable and is totally against the Appropriation Act, and they should abide by the Act.”