In what is a significant departure from the past, the National Assembly has passed the 2013 Budget before the end of the year with an increase from N4.92 trillion to N4.98 trillion.
This figure represents a difference of N62 billion as against the proposal presented to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan in October.
A report of the Joint Committee on Appropriation and Finance on the 2013 Appropriation Act was on Thursday considered by both chambers of the parliament and passed.
The budget is made up of N2.3 trillion as recurrent non-debt expenditure and N1.6 trillion for contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure for the year 2013.
Not giving up on the controversies over the non-implementation of the 2012 Budget, the lawmakers warned that all unutilised capital expenditure in the 2012 budget should be rolled over to form part of the 2013 Appropriation Act.
The lawmakers also retained the $79 per barrel oil benchmark price for the budget, higher than the $75 a barrel proposed by the President.
The budget is based on an assumption of 2.53 million barrels of oil production per day with an economic growth of 6.5 per cent, inflation at 9.5 per cent and an exchange rate of N160 to the dollar.
This is the first time that a budget will be presented and passed in the same year, despite the myriad of threat by members of the House of Representatives who had picked issues with the executive over the non-implementation of the 2012 budget.
With the early passage of the 2013 budget, the lawmakers urge the executive arm of government to ensure better implementation of the budget.
Dismiss Oteh or no budget for SEC
Members of the House of Representative however failed to approve the budget of the Security Exchange Commission (SEC), insisting that the Director-General of the commission, Ms Arunma Oteh must be sacked.
The national assembly took a tough stance on SEC and approved zero allocation for the commission.
Ms Oteh has been embroiled in a long-running feud with the House of Representatives after she accused members of a committee set up to probe the capital market, of soliciting bribes from the commission.
The allegation has led to the prosecution of the two members, Herman Hembe and Emeka Azubogu while the House in a unanimous motion asked the President to dismiss the SEC boss, claiming that her appointment was illegal.
The Senate Committee on Capital Market had also during the year, declared that it will have nothing to do with Ms Oteh, as long as she remains at the helm of affairs at the commission.
The Senate Committee on Capital Market has resolved to have nothing to do with the Director-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Ms Arunma Oteh, as long as she remains at the helm of affairs at the commission.
In a statement signed by the chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Ayoade Adeseun, recalled that the House of Representatives which earlier investigated the near collapse of the capital market passed a resolution based on the report of the committee that the president should sack Ms Oteh.
He noted that instead of complying with the resolution, Ms Oteh was reinstated in a flagrant disregard of the resolution.
Senator Adeseun said further that, since Ms Oteh resumed duty; there have been series of protests against her manner of managing the agency.
He noted that, staff of the commission have again accused her of highhandedness, sole administration, intimidation and a headlong drive for vengeance.
Consequently he stated that the Senate Committee on Capital Market at its meeting on the 26th of September 2012 considered these issues which he claimed could negatively affect the capital market, and therefore resolved to support the position of the House of Representatives that the Ms Otteh be removed forthwith.
The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Friday, held a conciliatory meeting with staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Dr Okonjo –Iweala who was received by the Acting D.G. on arrival was at the commission to appeal to the staff to accept the decision of the Federal Government to recall the SEC D.G., Ms. Arunma Oteh, back from her leave.
The workers, through their union, the Amalgamated Union of Corporate Organizations, on Wednesday demonstrated for over an hour outside the SEC premises in Abuja, against the reinstatement of Ms. Oteh.
According to them, they are not against the government’s decision to reinstate the D.G., but insisted that they would welcome Ms. Oteh back only after the House Committee clears her of the allegations against her.
The House of Representatives had on Thursday called for the immediate sack of the Ms. Oteh, insisting that her appointment was illegal.
However, the Finance Minister stressed that the Federal Government will not go back on its decision over the matter and pleaded with the staff to let peace reign.
The Board of the SEC had in June directed Ms. Oteh to proceed on compulsory leave, to enable the board probe allegations of financial misappropriation and disharmony in the apex capital market regulator.
The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has defended the attendance of former Director-General (DG) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Ms Arunma Oteh, at Tuesday’s meeting of the Economic Management Team.
Briefing state house correspondents after the meeting Dr Iweala said that Ms Arunma’s suspension from office does not stop her from attending or participating in one or two meetings on the economy.
According to the Coordinating Minister of the economy, the suspended DG is yet to be indicted by the investigations and therefore can continue to contribute her ideas to meetings.