Budget details out in two weeks
• Federal legislature says no politics in delay
Denying that its position on the 2016 budget is politically motivated, the National Assembly yesterday assured the nation that the details of the fiscal plan would be released in two weeks.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Dr. Abdulmumini Jibrin who addressed journalists at the National Assembly complex said it was unfair to accuse the federal lawmakers of politicising the issue relating to the passage of the budget.
Meanwhile, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, House of Representatives, Suleiman Abdulrahman Kawu Sumaila, has confirmed that the presidency is yet to get the budget details.
Sumaila in a statement made available to The Guardian said there was nothing awkward in the delay to transmit the budget details.
Jibrin who said details of the 2016 budget were being worked upon and would be made available to the presidency within the next two weeks, stated that the 2016 budget was as good as a law notwithstanding the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari was yet to assent to it.
He also wondered why there were persons still ‘throwing stones’ at the National Assembly despite that the members painstakingly worked round the clock to discharge their responsibilities on the 2016 budget as stipulated by the law.
Recalling that a similar incident of the non-release of budget details occurred during the administration of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Jibrin urged Buhari to go ahead and assent to the Appropriation Bill pending when the budget details would be ready.
He said :”We have passed the budget and at the moment we are working on the details. Is the National Assembly taking responsibility for the delay in the budget passage that didn’t have details?
“There is nothing that has happened so far that is abnormal. Also , we have all read it on pages of newspapers and insinuations too including the ones in which they alleged that it was information from a top official of the presidency.
“Let me put it straight and clear that I doubt that such a statement could come from the presidency knowing fully the challenges that we went through during the budgeting process.
“We in the National Assembly believe this is the most difficult budget we have ever death with because you all recall that the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) came very late. But we accepted it and dealt with it. The budget itself came very late; we accepted it ,we dealt with it. Even while we were dealing with all such realities, multiple budget details came up and we were able to manage the situation in a very friendly manner with the executive arm of government. Of course, they took responsibility for that .Even while that was going again, during the budget defence by standing committees of the House a lot of members of the Executive arm of government came to the National Assembly and disowned the details in their various budget lines.
“When all these things have taken place we would all agree that it will be very difficult for anybody to sit and start throwing stones at the National Assembly. We have been working day and night, we are doing our best, we have been very generous to the Executive.
“With all these challenges in the course of working on the budget, I doubt very much that the Executive arm of government or the presidency knowing fully what has transpired in the last few months will be throwing stones at the National Assembly.
“ We had instances of President Olusegun Obasanjo signing the budget without the details. Of course, we came to Yar’adua who always preferred to see the details.
“So if President Muhammadu Buhari prefers to see the details before assenting to the appropriation bill, I don’t think we should make a big deal out of it.
“We would take a week or two to work on the details. Now we are looking at the reports that were submitted to the appropriation committee by the standing committees of the House. We are doing the final harmonisation checks here and there, that should take a week or two. What we have sent to the Executive is practically law and so the insinuation that there is politics, all sorts of delay etcetera is unfounded. It is absolutely false.”