Senate Extends 2020 Capital Budget Implementation Till March 31st, 2021 Citing Covid-19

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The Senate on Wednesday extended the implementation of the capital budget of the 2020 by three months from December 31st, 2020 to March, 31st 2021.

The action of the upper legislative chamber followed an Executive bill for an Act to amend the 2020 Appropriation Act.

In his lead debate, Senate Majority Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya Abubakar said the adjustment had become necessary as a result of the impact of Covid-19 pandemic and the attendant period of lockdown that made it difficult for virtually all the Ministries, Department and Agencies(MDAs) to implement their capital projects.

He said some MDAs has about 71% of their capital budget untouched; stressing that the extension will enable the affected government agencies access and utilize their capital expenditure.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday written to the National Assembly to demand fresh amendment to the 2020 Appropriation Act.

Based on this Presidential request; the Senate suspended Order 44 of its Standing Rules to give the amendment bill accelerated consideration; scaling first, second and third reading in less than 1 hour.

At the Committee of Supply; Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), advised Senate to simply add a proviso to Section 12 which states the tenure of the budget; against its initial plans to have it completely deleted.

According to Bamidele, deleting Section 12 will remove the force of law from all the capital expenditure previously embarked on.

Speaking with Journalists later, Senate Spokesman, Ajibola Bashiru said the extension was to save the country and the economy from embarrassment as well as ensure effective utiization of money already released for projects.

He said to ensure fuller implementation of the 2020 budget; the Senate decided to err on the side of prudence and permitted the expension of the capital aspect of the 2020 budget.

The National Assembly had returned the country to January-December budget cycle; making the tenure of the 2020 Appropriation Act to expire on December, 31st, 2020.

Bashiru dismissed fears being expressed in some quarters that the amendment has rubbished the much celebrated achievement by the National Assembly.

This was as the planned passage of the 2021 budget suffered set back in the Senate on Wednesday as it announced that the budget will now be passed on Monday

The postponement is to accommodate new expenditure in the budget bill; which will run concurrently with the capital component of the 2020 budget when passed into law.

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