The two arms of the National Assembly, NASS, declared, yesterday, that the 2016 budget was full of errors, saying the document could no longer be passed on February 25 as earlier promised.
This came on a day the Senate Committee on Gas Resources rejected the N200 million allocation demanded by the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources in the budget for the treatment of Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, and another N200 million for a review of Nigeria Gas Master Plan. Similarly, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, yesterday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to save the country the national embarrassment being caused by the 2016 budget he presented to the National Assembly by formally withdrawing and representing it.
Budget can’t be passed, say Goje, Jibrin
Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje, and his House of Representatives counterpart, Jibrin Abdulmumin, who disclosed this at a briefing, said the budget was fraught with too many errors, which had made its passage into law impossible.
Senator Goje noted that the Presidency had also admitted that there were errors in the budget, explaining that it would be inappropriate to give a new date now due to the errors that they would have to work on.
He said: “We are here in connection with the ongoing processing of the 2016 Budget because these two committees are the ones saddled with the production of the final copies of the budget that would be passed by the National Assembly for onward submission to Mr President for his assent and subsequent implementation.
“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 provision. During the budget defence, a lot of issues based on the padding of the budget, arising from over-bloated overheads 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 and do a very thorough work aimed at doing a proper clean-up of the budget.
“So in summary, the time-table for passage of the budget is no longer realistic because as appropriation committees of both chambers of the National Assembly, we need additional time to do a thorough job for the 2016 budget.
” On his part, the House Chairman on Appropriation Committee, Abdulmumin, agreed that the two committees would have to do a proper clean up of the budget.
He said: “So we can pass a budget that is implementable and also acceptable to Nigerians. It is no longer realistic because we need sufficient time to pass a comprehensive budget. “The President is an individual, the budget runs in thousands of pages, the President will not be able to go through it page by page.”
He explained that once the budget is passed into law, the life span of the budget would be counted to ensure that Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, implement it.
Asked to react to a threat made by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, that he would withdraw his budget, Jibrin said the withdrawing of a budget by the executive would not be tolerated by NASS.
Both chairmen also denied that the sudden shift in date had political colouration, adding that the shift was because of the many errors discovered in the budget.