Fred Itua, Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday, threw jibes at President Muhammadu Buhari, ministers and heads of various agencies of government, over poor implementation of budgets, as well as late submission of appropriation estimates.
Dogara who spoke at the opening of a joint public hearing by Senate and House of Representatives committees on Appropriations, said the late submission and poor implementation of budgets by the Executive arm was shameful. He also described the huge estimates as hypocritical on the part of the of the Executive.
Dogara listed some bills passed by the National Assembly, geared towards strengthening the budget process but lamented that President Buhari vetoed the two bills, despite its significance to strengthening institutions of government.
He urged the ministers and other heads of agencies who were present at the public hearing to ensure that the 2019 budget gets at least 70 per cent implementation, especially the capital components of the Act.
He said: “The public and indeed stakeholders here must never feel that the budget does not reflect their values, or that the process is too cumbersome for them to understand, or that they cannot make any difference in the process. This is why Parliament, in its wisdom, created this opportunity for a public and stakeholder dialogue on the budget.
“Therefore, we must not miss this opportunity to critically appraise the document that is before us and proffer useful tools that will help reshape the budget into a document that captures national values and priorities. This is the task before all of us today and believe me we can make a difference if we are determined to re-write the wrongs of the past.
“Over the years, the main problem with our budget as submitted by the Executive is that it does not reflect national values and priorities. The budget, more often than not, only reflects the values and priorities of those who help the president in drafting it.
“The integrity of the project selection process has always been the bane of our national budgets. I regret to say that until we eliminate these problems, we will always have non implementable national budgets which cannot be relied upon by policymakers in establishing spending priorities.