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Why We Have Not Sent 2016 Budget Details To Presidency – NASS… Asks Buhari To Wait Till Mid April

Details of the budget will not be available for President Muhammadu Buhari until mid-April, lawmakers said yesterday.

Presidency sources said Buhari will not assent to the document unless the details are attached because the lawmakers merely sent a summary to him.

The Senate Appropriation Committee is working on the details.

House of Representatives Appropriation Committee Chairman Abdumumin Jubrin said there was nothing unusual in passing the budget and sending the details to the President later.

He said this was done during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure.

According to him, given the “lots of omissions” and being the most difficult budget we’ve ever dealt with”, the least the executive should do is to be grateful to the lawmakers.

”I think if they’re not thanking us, they cannot throw stones at the National Assembly,” he added.

Jubrin said: “We in the National Assembly believe that this is the most difficult budget we have ever dealt with. Of course, you all recall that the Medium Term Expenditure Framework ( MTEF) came very late; we accepted it, we dealt with it. The budget itself came late; we accepted it and we dealt with it.

“The budget has had a lot of challenges, which have to do with multiple budget details and, of course, ministers, heads of MDAs coming to disown their budgets. There were other key omissions in the 2016 budget that the National Assembly had to deal with.

“ In some instances, we discovered that budgetary allocations were not in tandem with the policy thrust of the Federal Government, which is part of the responsibility of the Appropriation Committee, to look into that and try to align the allocations to match the policy thrust of government.

“And, of course, we saw a lot of omissions, inadequate provision for personnel across board.

“I’ve explained to you several times that the case of Prisons ration that was reduced far below the federal Government approved rates. We talked about the NYSC where only 210,000 members were captured as against 260,000. All these we did our best to see how to address these issues and a lot also could not be addressed.”

He said other areas the National Assembly intervened was to align the budget with the security thrust, anti- corruption drive and economic diversification Programmes of the government

Most members of the Senate Committee on Appropriation met for over two hours yesterday to harmonise the controversial budget. Many of the 14 members attended.

The meeting was held in the office of Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje, its chairman.

A member of the Committee claimed that “the intention of the National Assembly was to transmit highlights of the 2016 budget while work continues on the details.”

The committee member who spoke in confidence further claimed that “there is no doubt that the budget as presented by Mr. President was full of errors and repetitions which made work on the Appropriation Bill more cumbersome.”

He said: “ We were in a fix few days to the passage of the 2016 budget when the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO) brought copies of the booklet they published, which contained errors they discovered in the 2016 budget.

“We had to agree that highlights of the budget be passed and transmitted to the Presidency while we withheld the details so that we can cross check the claims of NABRO in the booklet. From the look of things, it will take another two to three weeks for us to conclude work on the budget. We are not alone; financial experts are also involved in the scrutiny.

“As has been said by a top government functionary on some other national issues, we too are not magicians to correct an Appropriation Bill full of errors and outright distortions in a day.

“You can see that we are working round the clock to give the country an implementable budget.”

The NABRO booklet contains errors, repetitions and padding in the fiscal document.

It involved alleged fresh padding of over N500 billion contained in the budgetary proposals for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and the Service Wide Votes.

NABRO said it published the document to give technical support to members of the legislature by pointing out some errors in the budget.”

It said: “Given the current challenge of abnormalities in the 2016 budget proposal where projects are repeated more than once in the budget, and others undefined, NABRO rose to the occasion by providing the legislature with an accurate and inclusive review of the line items in the 2016 appropriation bill.”

Goje declined to speak with reporters yesterday on the fresh round of controversy on the budget.

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