Due to what has been termed padding and strange figures in the 2016 Budget, the National Assembly on Tuesday announced the indefinite postponement of its passage, which had been earlier slated for February 25.
T?here were disagreements between the Ministers and civil servants in the various ministries during the budget defence over strange figures in the budget.
The latest was Monday’s request by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, to withdraw his Ministry’s budget over strange figures he detected in the copy with the Senate.
Also, last week, the Senate Committee on Education uncovered N10 billion smuggled into 2016 Budget proposal.
Addressing newsmen on Tuesday, the Joint National Assembly Committee on Appropriation, Co-Chaired by Senator Danjuma Goje and Hon. Jibrin Abdulmumini?, explained that a lot of issues were raised during the budget defence based on the padding of the budget arising from over-bloated overhead and in some instances cases of over-bloated personnel cost.
Abdulmumini said the lawmakers decided to postpone the budget passage in order for the lawmakers to do a thorough job on it.
He said,: “We are here in connection with the ongoing processing of the 2016 Budget defence and because these two committees are the ones 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 assent 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 so that Nigerians will know the correct situation of things regarding the 2016 Budget.
“We designed a timetable for the consideration and passage of the budget and by 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.
“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 has been a lot of issues. The appropriation committee would look at these issues after the whole budget defence to do a very thorough work aimed at doing a proper clean up of the budget.
“To liaise with all the stakeholders to enable us pass the budget that is implementable.
“Budget that is good from the perspective of the legislature and also acceptable to the Executive arm of the government.
“So, in summary, the timetable for the passage of the budget is no longer realistic because the 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 paddings.
“We want to produce a budget that is in line with the constitutional requirement.
“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 basis for us to sit down and ensure that a thorough job is done before the budget is passed.”