Budget Padding Is A ‘Misrepresentation Of Facts’ – Deputy Speaker

Yusuf Lasun, Reps, Budget Padding, 2016 Budget, House of RepresentativesThe Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Lasun Yusuf, has described as misrepresentation of facts, the widespread allegations of padding of the 2016 budget.

He said that contrary to rumours being peddled around the country, there was no section of the appropriation bill that was padded.

The lawmaker explained that the legislature had in exercise of the power conferred on it by the constitution, reallocated figure in the budget estimates as presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He made the disclosure while delivering a lecture at the 17th edition of the media parliament of Kwara State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).

Mr Yusuf spoke on the ‘Challenges of Law-making and the Delivery of Dividend of Democracy in Nigeria’ during the gathering at the Abubakar Olusola Saraki Pen House in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

He explained that it was the exclusive preserve of the legislative arm to rework annual fiscal document tabled before it by the executive, stating that such document remains “an estimate and not real budget”.

The former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Mr Abdulmumin Jibrin, who had blown the lid that some principal officers of the lower chamber of the National Assembly partook in the budget padding scam, was suspended from office.

His allegation had ignited public outrage against the National Assembly while the House maintained that the budget was not padded as alleged.

Abdulmumin Jibrin, House, Budget padding
Mr Abdulmumin Jibrin

Budget Padding Debacle

The Deputy Speaker, however, told the gathering in Ilorin that the allegations against the leadership of the House by the suspended lawmaker were of no effect and could not be substantiated, insisting that the House acted within its powers.

He stated that the House was empowered to reallocate and reconcile figures in the budget estimates that were believed not to be properly done.

Honourable Yusuf decried that many Nigerians were ignorant of the works of the legislative arm and were fond of passing verdict without verifiable facts on some allegations levelled against the lawmakers.

He explained further that it was the primary responsibility of the law-making body to scrutinise budget estimates submitted by the executive arm, adding that members could use the avenue to address pressing needs of their people.

“While the executive makes proposals on projects, programmes and expenditure for every year, the legislature finally approves figures that are spent.

“In the process, the legislature often interfaces with the executive to have certain projects and programmes form part of (the) budget.

“This is necessary as I have said earlier because the closeness of the legislator to the constituents must have emerged from that environment.

“It is critical that certain pressing areas requiring government attention are suggested and included in the estimates.

“Unfortunately, the poor understanding of the fine details of legislative practice anchored on the express provision of the constitution erroneously informed the so-called budget padding debacle which was a distraction to the polity.

“For instance, the case of 50-year-old Ojutu Bridge in my constituency that has great potentials in turning around the lives of my constituents,” Yusuf said.

House To Send 2016 Budget To Presidency In Two Weeks

2016 budget-HouseThe Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Rep. Abdulmumin Jibrin on Wednesday said details of the 2016 Budget is still being worked on and will hopefully be sent to the Presidency within the next two weeks.

According to the lawmaker, usually the details are not sent to the President with the estimates but noted that the President reserves the right to insist that it be sent.

The lawmaker said the 2016 Budget is one of the most difficult budget ever dealt with by the National Assembly and the lawmakers have a responsibility to ensure that what they pass is without errors.

The National Assembly had passed the 2016 budget of 6.06 trillion Naira.

The budget passed on Wednesday, March 23 by the Senate and the House of Representatives was 17 billion Naira lower than the figure of 6.07 trillion Naira presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly in December.

Addressing reporters after the passage of the budget, the chairmen of Appropriation Committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives said that for the first time, the National Assembly had reduced the size of the aggregate expenditure, consequently reducing the total recurrent expenditure, deficit and borrowing plan.

 

House Of Reps Says Review Of Oil Benchmark Is ‘Certain’

House-of-RepresentativesThe House of Representatives in Nigeria says the National Assembly will certainly review the crude oil benchmark price for the 2016 budget.

The possibility of the review was made known to Channels Television on Wednesday by the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

Nigeria’s 2016 budget had been submitted to the National Assembly in December by the President, with a benchmark of $38 less than the current crude oil price.

This price per barrel has triggered comments about how realistic the budget proposal of 6.07 trillion Naira, with 2.22 trillion Naira deficit and a crude oil benchmark of $38 was.

But on Monday, the Minister of Budget and National Planning in Nigeria, Senator Udo Udoma, tried to allay Nigerians fears, assuring them that the falling crude oil price would not affect the nation’s 2016 budget submitted with the oil benchmark of $38 per barrel.

Senator Udoma spoke at a meeting with members of the National Assembly Committee on Budget and Planning.

He told the lawmakers that there was a plan to cushion all shortfalls that may arise as a result of the drop in oil prices.

According to him, part of the plans would include concession of airports and re-introduction of toll gates on the nation’s highways.

Budget Breakdown

GDP Growth Rate Projection4.37%
Revenue Projection3.86 Naira
Deficit2.22 trillion Naira (equivalent to 2.16% of Nigeria’s GDP)
Oil Related Revenues820 billion Naira
Non-oil Revenues1.45 trillion Naira
 Projected Independent Revenues1.51 trillion Naira
Capital Expenditure1.8 trillion Naira (30%  of total budget)
Works, Power and Housing433.4 billion Naira
Transport202.0 billion Naira
Interior53.1 billion Naira
Special Intervention Programs300 billion Naira
Education369.6 billion Naira
Defence294.5 billion Naira
Health221.7 billion Naira
Ministry of Interior145.3 billion Naira
Foreign and Domestic Debt Service1.36 trillion Naira
Sinking Fund towards the retirement of maturing loans113 billion Naira
Non-debt Recurrent Expenditure2.65 trillion Naira

 

To address Nigerians concerns, however, the National Assembly is considering the review of the benchmark.

Mr Jibrin said that the new benchmark that would be arrived at would be a practical figure.

The Chairman is also encouraging the executive to fully implement the Integrated Personnel Payroll System as a means of reducing the recurrent part of the country’s budget.

Nigeria relies largely on crude oil sales for its revenue, a situation that the Senate President had also warned against.

Senator Bukola Saraki said on Tuesday that focus must be shifted away from crude oil dependency to non-oil sectors for the government to be able to raise funds that would cater for the budget.