Saraki reveals when Senate will pass 2017 budget

WELCOME BACK SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (CON) TO SENATORS OF THE 8TH SENATE ON RESUMPTION FROM 2016 END OF THE YEAR RECESS ON TUESDAY, 10 JANUARY, 2017.

Protocol:

1. Distinguished colleagues, it is heart warming for me to see you back in good health, refreshed and energised for the work ahead. Let me on behalf of myself and the entire leadership wish you and all Nigerians a very happy new year.

2. 2016, was a very challenging year for all of us. But I assure you that the work we have done so far is gradually setting the stage for a greater and better 2017. Let me therefore, begin this address by thanking every one of you for the hard work and dedication exhibited in the last quarter of last year to keep the promise we made to all Nigerians that we would pass laws that would make the difference in their lives.
7. These statistics make the delivery of these bills imperative and confirm evidently that we have got our priorities right so far. It is hoped that as we begin to turn our focus now towards the passage of the 2017 budget, these bills will be implemented simultaneously with the budget to enable us exit the recession quickly.

8. It is therefore imperative that we immediately begin work earnestly on the MTEF to ensure passage by the end of the week. In this way, consideration and debate on the 2017 budget will immediately follow in the 3 “sitting days” of the next week. It is our hope that we will with this budget begin the implementation of the report of the Committee on Budget Reforms, which has since submitted its report. This will enable more Nigerians participate in the budget consideration process, deepen the review and create the necessary efficiencies we expect from our budget implementation.

9. Distinguished colleagues, there is hardly a point reiterating the importance of making the 2017 budget the most successful budget we have ever passed, neither is it important to emphasise the need to have this budget back on the desk of the executive on time for implementation. As you may be aware, based on the recommendations of the Budget Reform Committee, we are working towards ensuring that budgets are prepared and submitted timely, so that implementation will follow a regular fiscal circle. In this regard, the National Assembly will not tolerate agencies of government not submitting their budgets within the budget period. This is why I urge all agencies yet to submit their budgets to do so quickly as budgets not received within time may have to wait for the next budget circle.

10. The budget is the most critical instrument within our public context for economic reordering. It is an effective tool to stimulate the economy, ensure an even distribution of development across the country; and give the “Made In Nigeria” initiative the impetus to survive and in the long term, sustain itself. In this particular regard, the Senate has played its part by passing the amendment to the Procurement Act for which we are awaiting concurrence by the House and for the immediate assent of the President. Once this happens, we will not rest at simply assigning it back to the relevant committee but rather, we all will play our part to ensure that all government agencies comply with the law. I for one, intend to put the full weight of my Office behind this initiative to build the trust and ensuing patronage of Nigerians in goods and products made by our own people. I truly believe that this is the singular policy that can play a key role in getting out of this recession, provide the needed jobs; and keep the economy going.

16. I cannot end this brief remark of mine without emphasising on the need for us to pursue and conclude the on going constitutional review process which we will conclude by the end of this session in March. We must do this to ensure that our people begin to enjoy the benefits of the intended reforms which will help strengthen our unity, increase our prosperity and opportunity as we as expand our liberty and happiness across the country.
17. Finally, distinguished colleagues, let me thank you all for your unflinching focus and perseverance in the way you have conducted yourself as we march towards the attainment of most of our laid priorities. Though there have been many distractions on the way and unmerited traducers unleashed at you to weaken your resolve, you have remained resolute and un-detachable to our collective goal. This is a reflection of what can be achieved if we keep the focus before the end of our tenure. Like a said when we started this journey, history beckons and we cannot afford to lose sight of the goal.
18. Thank you for your attention and God bless Nigeria.

(Dr.) Abubakar Bukola Saraki
President, Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

(16601)

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