NASS shifts indefinitely deadline for budget vetting

NASS shifts indefinitely deadline for budget vetting

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 11:13 pm

National Assembly. Photo Femi Ipaye

National Assembly. Photo Femi Ipaye

Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

Nigerian lawmakers announced on Tuesday that with the gross distortions and bogus allocations being discovered in many areas of the document, their earlier promise of passing the 2016 budget proposal by the end of February is no longer feasible.

The N6.08 trillion spending plan submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari last December has come under fierce criticisms in the past one week as Nigerians subjected the document to scrutiny.

Nigerians have been pointing out outrageous allocations for frivolities at the time the Buhari administration has been calling on the citizens to get ready for belt tightening measures.

The Senate Committee on Education had last week uncovered N10 billion that was smuggled into the sector’s budget.

And the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole on Monday told the Senate Committee on Health that the budget it was that civil servants working in his ministry had grossly distorted the budget.

The Minister told the Senate Committee that he will submit fresh proposals to the Senate.

With the various controversies over paddings and over bloated allocations, the Joint National Assembly Committee on Appropriation Co- chaired by Senator Danjuma Goje and Hon. Jibrin Abdulmumini‎ , said it will need more time to scrutinize the budget.

“We are here in connection with the ongoing processing of the 2016 budget Defence and because these two committees are the one saddled with the production of the final copies of the budget that would be passed by the two houses for onward submission to Mr. President for his asset and subsequent implementation,” Honourable Jibrin told journalists.

“And because of the observed instances that are being reported from the beginning of the budget submission there are a lot of controversies surrounding the budget.

“We feel that we have to come here, interact with you, make some clarification that Nigerians we know the correct situation of things regarding the 2016 budget.

“We designed a timetable for the consideration and passage of the budget and that particular timetable that we will pass the budget on February 25, 2016 but as you are all aware, a lot of issues have come up and gladly so even the Executive arm of government have also come out to accept the fact that there has been a lot of errors in the budget.

“Again during the budget Defence a lot of issues based on the padding of the budget arising from over bloated overhead and in some instances cases of over bloated personnel cost.

But generally there have been a lot of issues. The appropriation committee would look at these issues after the whole budget Defence to do a very thorough work aim at doing a proper cleanup of the budget.

“To liaise with all the stakeholders to enable us pass the budget that is implementable. Budget that is is hood from the perspective of the legislature and also acceptable to the Executive arm of the government.

“So in summary, the timetable for the passage of the budget is no longer realistic because appropriation committees of both chambers of the National Assembly we need additional time to be able to do a thorough job for the 2016 budget.

“The joint committees on Appropriation wouldn’t like the budget to be thrown back to it based on some ambiguities.

“We want to remove all ambiguities; we want to remove all paddings. We want to produce a budget that is in line with the constitutional requirement.

“Again in terms of capital expenditure there are complaints coming from different quarters arising from the imbalance from the capital allocation and of course disagreement among the Ministers and the Civil Servants in the various ministries that we have witnessed during the period of budget Defence.

“These all together form enough basis for us to sit down and ensure that a thorough job is done before the budget is passed,” said Jibrin

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