President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the immediate suspension of international travels by all Cabinet members and Heads of Government Agencies so as to enable ministers personally lead the process of Budget defence at the National Assembly.
The travel embargo is coming following the presentation of the 2020 Appropriation Bill by President Buhari to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, conveyed this directive in a statement signed by the Director of Information in his office and made availabile to newsmen on Friday, in Abuja.
The SGF explained that the suspension of such travels would 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.
In the last few years both the Executive and National Assembly have had cause to engage themselves in a blame-game over delay in passage of the national budget.
While the National Assembly blamed the Executive for late presentation of Appropriation Bills and in some cases unavailability of Ministers and Heads of Agencies during budget defence, the Executive accused the National Assembly of deliberately delaying passage of the Appropriation Bills.
But the SGF in the statement said: “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,” Mustapha said.
The Presidency and the National Assembly have expressed commitment to return the budget circle to January-December so as to correct the current haphazard arrangement.
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