The passage of the 2016 appropriation bill of the Nigerian government has been postponed indefinitely by the National Assembly, noting that the February 25 earlier schedule was no longer feasible.
In a joint press conference by the Senate and House of Representatives committees on appropriations, the lawmakers said the postponement became necessary following the need to do a thorough job and produce a budget that will be implementable.
There have been issues arising from the budget defence by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, (MDAs) since the exercise began over one week ago, and Chairman of the Senate committee on appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje observed that the legislature cannot deliver the final document based on the initial timetable.
“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 has also come out to accept the fact that there has been a lot of errors in the budget.
So, 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 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 clarifications that Nigerians will know the correct situation of things regarding the 2016 budget.”
Senator Goje also frowned at what he described as “inconsistencies” in the budget defence by officials of the government, stating categorically that the lawmakers will not allow themselves to be blamed for doing a bad job.
“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 clean up of the budget.”
In his additional clarification to the issue, the Chairman House of Representatives committee on appropriations, Mr. Abdumumuni Jubril said the essence of the adjustment in the timetable is to avoid uncertainties and unnecessary speculations as both committees enter the final stage of processing the 2016 budget.
“So, in summary the timetable for the passage of the budget is no longer realistic because as 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 padding. We want to produce a budget that is in line with the constitutional requirement,” he explained.
“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 bases for us to sit down and ensure that a thorough job is done before the budget is passed.”