Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives has warned Ministeries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) against adjusting their appropriations in the 2020 fiscal year.
The chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, Aliyu Betera, in a statement on Friday, said there are reports that following the submission of a revised version of the 2020 budget to the National Assembly for approval, some MDAs are already tampering with their budgets.
However, Betara stated that such action was illegal, as it is only the parliament that is empowered to adjust the national budget. He added that any government official found to have tinkered with the budget of MDAs will be sanctioned in accordance with the law.
According to him “there were reports that following the downward review of the budget from N10.59 trillion to N10.52 trillion due to the COVID-19 crisis and the dwindling oil prices, some MDA’s were already adjusting the budget proposal to suit their needs.
“Such acts will not be condoned by the National Assembly as any MDA or official found to be engaged in such illegal practices will be made to face the music..
“I want to warn that no other arm or department of government has any power over budget except the legislature, which is the National Assembly. It is only the National Assembly that can review the budget and we have begun the process.
“I would like to refresh the memory of those erring MDAs or officers of the Executive that sections 80- 84 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) confers appropriation powers on the parliament as well as its responsibilities over the national purse. So, nobody should engage any unlawful act concerning the budget.”
The lawmaker added “Section 80 (4) specifically provided that ‘no money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly; therefore, we shall not shirk in our responsibilities and we will also not hesitate to wield the big stick on whoever goes beyond his brief to tamper with the budget”
Betara assured that, not minding the two weeks Sallah break, the House committee on Appropriation will collaborate with relevant committees in the House, as well as the Senate and the Executive to come up with a workable and implementable budget to help the country overcome the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We hope to finish work on the budget in record time, so that its implementation will still remain within the January -December budget cycle,” he stated.