President Muhammadu Buhari has temporarily banned all members of his cabinet and heads of agencies from travelling abroad.
Willie Bassey, director of information, office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who made the announcement on Friday, said the president’s decision is to enable those concerned defend their respective budgets at the National Assembly.
“Sequel to the presentation of the 2020 Appropriation Bill by Mr President to the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the immediate suspension of international travels by all Cabinet Members and Heads of Government Agencies so as to enable Honourable Ministers personally lead the process of Budget defence at the National Assembly,” the statement said.
“The suspension of such travels will enable functionaries and agencies of the Executive Arm to provide the required cooperation with the Legislature in order to ensure timely passage of the Appropriation Bill.
“Honourable Ministers who have already secured approval to travel are by this directive, required to revalidate such approvals with Mr President after confirming the Schedule of Appearances with the relevant committees of the National Assembly.
“Furthermore, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been directed to liaise with the relevant committees of the National Assembly for their Schedules of Budget defence.”
Buhari had on Tuesday, presented the 2020 N10.33 trillion budget proposal to a joint session of the National Assembly.
According to him, the early presentation of the budget to the National Assembly was meant to enable the country return to the January-December budget cycle.
Following the presentation of the financial estimate, the Senate gave October 31 as the deadline for all government agencies to defend their budget, so as to enable the passage of the document in December.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), should appear before the Committees for the defence of their budget estimates without delay.
Lawan said the National Assembly would not allow ministers, or heads of departments and agencies of government frustrate it from passing the budget by Decenber.
“The National Assembly will do the right thing; which is to work on the budget and pass it,” Lawan said at the unveiling of the Legislative Agenda of the House of Representatives.
“We will not allow anyone to frustrate our desire to pass the 2020 Budget before the end of this year. So, it is an opportunity for all those concerned with defending their budgets, to take the advantage.”
He had been consistent in his desire to reverse the current unpredictable financial year to a January to December cycle of budgeting.