AT last, the National Assembly, yesterday, transmitted the detailed Budget 2016 to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
Indications that the budget would be sent, yesterday, emerged when Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmunin Jibrin (APC, Kano), was sighted by journalists at NASS lobby carrying the 1,800-page document at about 4.30pm. He was confronted by journalists and he begged that he be allowed to deliver the document first to the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Salisu Maikasuwa, for onward transmission to the President.
At precisely 4.57pm, Jibrin stepped out of Maikusuwa’s office and addressed the press. He said the 2016 budget remained one of the most challenging budgets they (lawmakers) ever experienced. He explained that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on NASS Affairs had been duly informed and was expected to deliver it as soon as possible.
He said: “While we thank Nigerians for their patience and understanding, it is important to reiterate that it took us extra weeks to get the details ready not because there was anything untoward going on but rather so we could correct all the inconsistencies, errors, omissions and padding in the document submitted to us in December last year. “Being the most important economic policy tool of government, the budget provides a comprehensive statement of our priorities as a nation.
And as representatives of the people, the National Assembly remains the appropriate place to ensure that the details of such a document best match our national goals and aspirations”. “Therefore, what we have been doing in these past few weeks is to balance the projections for revenue against the estimates for expenditure, based on the reality of our situation today.
“Unfortunately, that task has been made very difficult by the sloppy manner the 2016 Appropriation Bill was prepared by the executive, such that many of the officials who came before our various committees practically disowned the inputs from their own departments and ministries.”
We’ve right to pad—Abonta
In his reaction to the transmission of the budget to the Presidency, Chairman House Committee on Public Petitions, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (PDP, Abia) said the transmission was a welcome development but noted that people should stop saying lawmakers padded the budget. “We’ve right to pad or depad because we have legal padding and illegal padding, what we do is legal padding which is the right to appropriate. “So, when people say we are padding the budget, they are simply asking us not to do our job.”