Reps may pass 2020 budget by 28 November ― Hon Kalu
• Says Speaker didn’t issue boycott letters on Finance bill
• Says Hon. Chinda, others have nothing to fear
Chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Benjamin Kalu on Thursday reiterated the resolve of the House towards the passage of the 2020 budget on the 28th November 2019.
Hon. Kalu, who gave the assurance in Abuja during the weekly briefing on the legislative activities, also unearth plans by the 9th Assembly toward the ratification of hundreds of Treaties, Agreements and Protocols signed by the successive administrations including the ceded Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon.
Speaking on the 2020 budget which is cute entry before the House Committee on Appropriations, Hon. Kalu said: “if we are projecting to finish 30th, we might shift it back to 28 because the member is very tired the work is not easy a lot of them cancelled a lot of things to be here so we need to round off as soon as possible so that we can go on expected recess.”
He assured that most of the Standing Committees have the latitude to submit their budget reports to the Committee on Appropriations.
The House spokesman who denied knowledge of secret budget defence by some Committees, however, explained that there are certain instances when the Committee may go into Executive Session which should not be attended by the Media and Legislative Aides.
While responding to question bothering on the ‘secret trial’ of the four members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who are currently being investigated by the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, Hon. Kalu assured that the four lawmakers have nothing to fear.
“Starting from what you tagged secret trial, I’m not aware of anything called secret trial in the House of Representatives. There’s nothing like the secret trial,” adding that: “This is not the first time the Ethics and Privileges Committee would be entertaining a matter.
“There was an Adhoc Committee that investigates a matter raised by myself when there was an attempt on the mace, that hearing was done, it was not done inside the chamber it was in a meeting room and it was reported back.”
He stressed that the Committee comprises of members of various political parties, hence noted that: “If your fear is about fair hearing, there is no need to be afraid of that because all parties are duly represented in that Committee and all affected parties are given a fair hearing to air their views on what happened.
“I have confidence in the integrity of the people that the leadership of the House chose into the Ethics and Privileges Committee. They are people of impeccable characters they are able the defenceless and they are able to speak the mind of the House in line with the Constitution and the House Rules. There is no agenda to have anybody tried in the secret.”
While responding to question on the letter purportedly issued by the Office of the Speaker asking the lawmakers not to attend the Finance Bill Public hearing as reported in the media, he said: “On the issue of the Finance bill and a letter emanating from the Speaker’s office, I don’t think to the best of my knowledge, the Speaker with his experience in running legislative activities will do such a letter.
“I am aware that there is a problem with communication about the meeting. And there was a confusion whether it’s going to be a separate public hearing or joint. But you know the most important thing is that the bill is being worked out whether it is joint or separate, what matters is that there is commitment. There is a political will from both chambers. We don’t need a bicameral system, we can work individually as long as there is concurrence as expected by the Constitution,” he told Parliamentary correspondents.
He also pledged the resolve of the House towards sanitising the power sector through legislative instruments, adding that: “In no distant time you are going to see a lot of efforts toward that direction. There is the willingness if there was not we wouldn’t include it in our legislative agenda.”