Abuja — Senate has begun moves to cripple what it described as the overbearing powers of the Ministry of Finance in the budgeting process, just as it wants to be involved fully and not only wait for information from the executive arm of the government.
The upper chamber accused the Ministry of Finance of being responsible for the nation's economic woes and the dwindling growth because of what the Senators described as the Ministry's poor budgeting system, adding that over the years the country had not improved employment or dividends of democracy to Nigerians as expected by the citizens.
The Senators also vowed to sanction those they have accused of hijacking the jobs and responsibilities of other agencies and Commissions of government, even as they also plan to ban the long-introduced envelop system by Federal Government where all Ministries, Department and Agencies of government can embark on projects not really tied down to budget.
Following discussions by the lawmakers on a motion yesterday by Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, ACN, Ekiti North, and 46 others, entitled Call for Review of National Planning and Budgeting Process, the Senate also resolved to empower the National Assembly in determining the pegging of budgets.
The resolution of the Senate is coming barely 48 hours after President Goodluck signed the 2013 Appropriation Bill into law after intrigues between the National Assembly and the executive months after the budget was passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, Senate President David Mark, who described the motion as "one of the most important motions we have seen on the floor of the Senate," noted that it was time for the National Assembly to sit up and take over its constitutional responsibilities, which he said had been snatched from it by the executive.
Senator Mark said: "People have failed to do what they are supposed to do. Some others have become too powerful and hijacked other people's work and refused to allow those who have been charged with specific responsibility to do what they are supposed to do."
Mark, who noted that the duty of planning the national budget rested squarely with the National Planning Commission, wondered why the Ministry of Finance had hijacked such duty from the commission.
He stressed that there must be a return to status quo against the backdrop that the Ministry was carrying out a responsibility outside its schedules.
Earlier in his motion, Senator Adetunmbi said: "Senate notes the subsumed role of the national planning function in the Nigerian budget process.
"It further notes that despite its declining influence in western economies, national development planning continues to be a dominant policy instrument in many low-income and emerging market economies.
"Observes that the traditional five-year development plans have been replaced by a Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, and believes that linking multi-year development plans to the national budget is fundamental to economic growth."