LAWMAKERS SET TO PASS BUDGET FRIDAY AFTER RECORD-BREAKING DELAY

All things being equal, the Lagos State 2019 Appropriation Bill is expected to be passed on Friday, April 26, by the state House of Assembly.

If eventually passed into law on Friday, the 2019 budget would be the longest Appropriation Bill to be passed by the state legislature in the last 10 years. The Bill spent 124 days with the state legislature before it would eventually be passed, on Friday.

The state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, had formally presented the 2019 budget to the state legislature on February 5 after a series of disagreement between the two arms of government on the appropriateness of laying the budget.

Speaking with New Telegraph on the development, a member of the state legislature, who pleaded for anonymity because he wasn’t officially authorized to speak on the matter, said the 40-man Assembly would pass the budget on Friday.

While ruling out any political influence on the perceived delay in the passage of the budget, the lawmaker said there are myriad of reasons why the budget dragged other than political.

“It’s pure imaginative to think that the budget was withheld because of any sorts of politics, such interpretation is ludicrous. We are responsible lawmakers and that defines our conduct,” he said.

Another source within the Assembly said Friday is probably the last day for any formal plenary for business discussion of the current 8th Assembly, adding that the induction of incoming members, which consisted of newly elected and returning lawmakers, will commence on Wednesday, May 1st.

He said: “I think the 2019 budget will be passed on Friday, don’t forget that the Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu’s Committee on Budget had since submitted its report to the House, but you know the lawmakers had been quite busy with this local government audit spearheaded by Hon. Bisi Yusuf.

“The lawmakers are not playing; they are pressed for time as well. Their valedictory service should be next week as well and I think the Speaker and others want to get the budget off, but due diligence must be observed.”
The 2019 budget was a subject of disagreement between the Lagos State Executive and Legislative arms, especially in the build-up to the last general election.
The governor had sent the budget to the Assembly on December 24, 2018 with a request to formally present it on December 28.

But the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, said the timing for the request wasn’t appropriate, adding that things must be done properly.
“We went on break on 18th December, 2018. The first call I received on the budget was on 24th December that the governor was willing to present the budget on that day.
“We normally go on break for six weeks, but we went on break for two weeks as we were waiting for the budget.

“Also, we received the budget on 28th December, when we were waiting for the New Year break. We are ready to receive the budget if it is done properly. We have no resentment, we have no bad blood,” he had said.
However, Lagos State Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mr. Olusegun Banjo, on January 2, said the 2019 Budget proposal was already in the State House of Assembly.
Banjo said in a statement that the budget was to have been read before the House on December 24, 2018.

The commissioner said Governor Ambode had verbally informed the House that he would be presenting the budget on December 24, after the state Executive Council’s approval on December 19.
Between 2010 and 2018, the least time the Lagos budget had been with any Assembly was 14 days, while the longest time was 101 days.

Ambode presented his first budget as governor for the 2016 fiscal year on December 17, 2015 and an estimate of N662. 588 billion was passed into law on December 30 by the lawmakers. The bill became law just 13 days after it was laid before the House.

The 2017 Appropriation Bill spent 32 days with the lawmakers before it was passed. Ambode presented the budget estimate on December 1, 2016, and the lawmakers passed the state’s 2017 Appropriation Bill of N812.998 billion on January 3, 2016.

On January 30, 2018, the Assembly approved the 2018 budget of N1.046 trillion into law after it was proposed and presented by the governor on December 11, 2017.

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