From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
CHAIRMAN of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin assured yesterday that details of the 2016 budget would be ready in two weeks.
There have been controversies over the delay of President Muhammadu Buhari in assenting to the budget. A source told Daily Sun that the president was hesitant to assent to the bill over lack of details.
But, in a statement yesterday, Jibrin said “there is nothing abnormal” for the president to assent to the bill before receiving its details. The lawmaker explained that there were inconsistencies and anomalies in budget, hence, the need for a thorough job to be done on it.
“We wish to make some clarifications, following media reports suggesting that withholding of assent to the 2016 appropriation bill by the presidency is due to the failure of the national assembly to send the budget details to the presidency alongside the appropriation bill,” Jibrin said.
“Ordinarily, the National Assembly should not have responded to the issues raised, but, we are duty-bound to put the issues into perspective and put records straights even though we doubt very much if the Presidency will issue such statement knowing full well the challenges the budget has faced so far.
“The general public should note that the MTEF and 2016 budget proposal came to NASS very late. You will also recall that a lot of dust was raised over different versions of the budget circulated in the national assembly. Further, some ministers disowned the content of the budget during defense before NASS.
“Amid these inconsistencies and discrepancies, the NASS had been deeply engrossed in perfecting the anomalies, ironing out of the wrinkles and stretching the twists inherent in the 2016 appropriation bill.”
“In order for the nation to move forward and avoid stagnation of administrative processes, the tradition is that the bill is passed and forwarded to the presidency for assent, while the lawmakers continue to work on the details. There is nothing abnormal about this practice and yet nothing abnormal about a president assenting a budget before or after seeing the details. In any case, the budget details are usually sent within a week or two after passing the budget.
“In view of the inconsistencies, errors, omissions and padding that characterised the 2016 budget, it would be unpatriotic of NASS to forward the budget details without being extra-careful, meticulous and cautious in discharging its duties. This is to ensure we do not make same mistakes that the executive made.
“The appropriation committee needs to scrutinise the original proposal sent by the president vis-à-vis the reports of various standing committees of the house of representatives and the senate to arrive at a clean copy of the budget details. This will, in no way, affect any envelop already passed or the aggregate expenditure.
“The NASS holds the president in high esteem and will continue to support him. There were several instances where we demonstrated our support to the present administrations in the past.”
“The NASS appropriation committees worked round the clock to address some of the omissions, bring up to date allocations in the budget towards the policy direction of Mr. President, particularly issues relating to security, anti-corruption and economic diversification.