‘Buhari Constrained To Sign 2016 Budget’ | Independent Newspapers Limited
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‘Buhari Constrained To Sign 2016 Budget’

Posted: Mar 30, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


President Muhammadu Buhari will not sign the 2016 appropriation bill of N6.06 trillion passed by the National Assembly last Wednesday unless the lawmakers provide more details of the bill, a government official said on Tuesday.

The National Assembly had sent the bill to the presidency but it is said to contain only highlights of the 2016 budget, without details, the official, who craved anonymity, noted.

“As a result, the president has been unable to sign the bill because he does not know what is contained in the details and what adjustments the National Assembly must have made to the proposal sent to them,” the official disclosed.

“The president has just received the transmission of the appropriation bill from the National Assembly and is very anxious to sign it into law, but the National Assembly only sent in the highlights without the details of the budget.

“As result, the president has been handicapped in signing the bill because he does not know what is contained in the details and what adjustments the National Assembly must have made to the proposal sent to them.

“Although he is anxious to sign the document so that implementation of the provisions could start immediately and with the tension in the economy and polity, he is afraid he may later discover when the details are sent what is contained therein is not implementable.

“He wishes the National Assembly could send in the details speedily so that it could be considered for assent.

“Ministers are also eager that the budget be signed so they could start implementing their programmes, but they are unable to push the president to sign what has been transmitted because they also do not know what is contained in the details.

“They are particularly worried that the year is gradually aging and the provision of the law in respect of spending the previous year’s budget is not helping matters because of the low capital provision for 2015.

“Because of the low provision made last year for capital expenditure, spending 50 percent of that provision for the first half of this year will make no impact on provision of infrastructure.

“The Budget Office cannot also work on the budget for implementation because it is the details, and not the highlights, that they convert into implementable templates for the respective ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

“This development confirms speculations that the National Assembly either did not complete work on the budget or are playing politics with the documents which affects the life of both the country and its citizens.

“The National Assembly may just have passed the bill to pass the buck to the executive and escape the wrath of the public which was gradually suspecting it of sabotage”.

The National Assembly on Wednesday passed into law the 2016 Appropriation Bill of N6.06 trillion which is N17 billion less than the N6.077 trillion presented to it by President Muhammadu Buhari last year.

The N17 billion reduction in the aggregate expenditure of the budget was taken from the overhead votes component of the N2.65 trillion recurrent expenditure which has now been reduced to N2.646, 389, 236, 196.

Other highlights of N351.4 billion for statutory transfers, N1.587 trillion for capital expenditure, N1.475 trillion for debt service and N2.2 trillion as fiscal deficit were retained.

Also retained were the parameters of $38 per barrel oil price benchmark, 2.2 million barrel of oil production per day, exchange rate of N197 to a US dollar and deficit GDP of 2.14%.

While the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing takes the lion share of N422, 964, 928, 495 of the capital votes, the Federal Ministry of Interior gets N451, 942, 552, 070 as lion share from recurrent expenditure component of the budget.

Other ministries with high capital allocations are transportation, N188, 674, 679, 674; defence, N130, 864, 439, 542; interior, N61, 713, 279, 496; agriculture, N46, 173, 963, 859 and education, N35, 433, 487, 466.

Aside interior, other ministries with high votes of recurrent expenditure allocations are education, N367, 734, 727, 223; defence, N312, 213, 355, 618; health, N221, 412, 548, 087 and Ministry of Youth & Sports Development, N72, 297,326, 595.

The National Assembly takes the lion share of N115 billion allocation out of the entire first line charge otherwise known as statutory transfers of N351.370 under which the Universal Basic Education is allocated N77, 110, 000, 000.

Others are National Judicial Council, N70 billion; Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), N41 billion; Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), N45 billion; Public Complaints Commission, N2 billion and National Human Rights Commission N1.210 billion.

Danjuma Goje (APC Gombe Central), Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, explained to the Senate that the N17 billion reduction effected in the budget size was done in view of the revenue and general economic challenges confronting the nation.

Goje in the report endorsed by the entire 16 members observed that the 2016 Appropriation Bill, aside not presented to the National Assembly on time, was fraught with a lot of inconsistencies from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

Consequently, they recommended that subsequent budgets should be submitted in strict compliance with the provision of the Fiscal Responsibility Act with proper engagement between the Budget Office of the Federation and the MDAs on budget contents.

The Federal Government as recommended in the report, must endeavour to increase and diversify its revenue generation and also drive down the wide gap ratio between recurrent and capital expenditure which is 30 to 70 percent this year.

In his remarks after the passage of the budget, Senate President Bukola Saraki had said the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly, would collaborate with the executive in ensuring full implementation of the budget through effective oversights of various government departments and agencies.