The Senate on Wednesday, urged the federal government to discard its plans to close the 2017 budget implementation on March 31, saying it should be extended to May 31, 2018, in line with the Appropriations Act.

This follows a Point of Order 42 of the Senate Standing Rule raised by Senator Ali Atai Aidoko (PDP, Kogi East), in which he drew the attention of the senate on the plans by the federal government to close the account of the 2017 budget on March 31.

Senator Aidoko alleged that a circular to that effect had already been issued by the Federal Ministry of Finance in variance with the provisions of Appropriation Act 2017.

The lawmaker explained that the Act shows that the budget should run from May 2017 and end in May 2018, adding that there was a resolution by the National Assembly that the budget should run from the same period when the Act was passed last year.

He said: “The circular that money for the last budget should be mopped up by March ending is causing panic among the MDAs. I want the senate to direct that whatever circular issued by the Ministry of Finance must be rescinded.

“The budget must be allowed to run its full course. The Act must be abided by as signed by Mr. President.

In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said though there is no need to debate the information brought by the motion, it is worthy of note that the Minister of Finance does not have the powers to terminate the life of a budget before it is due.

“Since the issue is about personal explanation raised by the senator, there will be no need for debate on the motion but it must be noted that the ministry does not have the right to bring a life of a budget to an end before its due time.

“The ministry must withdraw such circular and abide by the Act as signed by Mr. President”, Saraki said.

It would be recalled that the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Mustapha Dawaki said on Tuesday that the National Assembly was seeking an extension of the 2017 budget to May 31.

Dawaki, who spoke at a public hearing on the 2018 budget, informed that a letter has been written to the Accountant-General of the Federation, AGF, Ahmed Idris, asking him not close the budget account.

According to him, 2017 budget would stop functioning once the 2018 budget is passed by the National Assembly and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.