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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Budget: N’Assembly concluding work on clean copy

There were indications on Monday that the Reconciliation Committee of the National Assembly on the 2016 budget was rounding off work to produce a clean copy of the document to be submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari this week.

The PUNCH learnt that the committee, which is chaired by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yusuf Lasun, had planned to make the re-worked budget ready last Saturday but was caught up with the preparations for the May Day celebrations on Sunday.


A senior legislative aide informed The PUNCHon Monday, “The committee has been quite busy; the members worked all night Thursday and Friday last week.
“What is happening now is that the members are putting finishing touches to the budget before forwarding a clean copy to Mr. President.
“It will certainly be this week; counting Tuesday, Wednesday, the signed budget should be ready.”
Apart from Lasun, other members of the committee include the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje; Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin; Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, John Enoh; and his counterpart in the House, Mr. Babangida Ibrahim.
Attempts to get Lasun’s comments on Monday did not succeed.
The other members also said they preferred that either Goje or Jibrin should give a progress report on the work of the committee.
For example, Enoh pointedly told The PUNCH,“I think it is better to reach the respective chairmen of the Committees on Appropriations to speak on the matter.”
A second committee from the side of the executive is chaired by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udoma.
The two technical committees are expected to meet, fine-tune the details of the budget and submit it to Buhari
The President and the leadership of the National Assembly had agreed to set up the committees after a brief meeting on Wednesday night last week in Abuja to reconcile the ‘‘grey areas’’ in the N6.06tn budget.
Investigations indicated that among the grey areas, which would now be deleted from the budget, was the N40bn the lawmakers added to the original vote for zonal intervention projects in the budget.
The President initially proposed N60bn for the projects, but the lawmakers increased it to N100bn.
In addition, “all distortions” to the budget such as the 40 per cent reduction in some sub-heads, and the inclusion of projects “worth billions of naira” by some committee chairmen will be readjusted.
Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, said the leadership of the National Assembly would do everything possible to ensure early assent of President Muhammadu Buhari, to the 2016 budget.
He told one of our correspondents in Abuja that the grey areas causing friction between the legislature and the executive in the budget had been resolved.
Ndume stated, “There is no cause for concern as all issues relating to the budget have been taken care of by the leadership of the National Assembly.
“I assure Nigerians that all the areas of concern would be resolved this week and the President will sign the budget.”
He also reiterated that the late signing of the budget would not affect the implementation of government laudable programmes for the people.




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