Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Senate Promises to Pass 2016 Budget in February

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The Senate monday gave assurance that it would pass the controversial 2016 budget before the end of February.

This promise was made by Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, as the National Assembly leadership read the new letter addressed to it by President Muhammadu Buhari on the budget today. Buhari had in the letter announced that there were errors in the budget that he presented on December 22 as well as the correction done on it.

Last week, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, announced that presidential aide on National Assembly matters, Senator Ita Enang, smuggled a ‘fake’ budget proposal into the Senate and insisted that Senate would only work on the document presented to National Assembly by President Buhari on December 22, 2015.

Speaking on the development yesterday, Ndume said having compared the new budget with the old one, there is a major difference as the executive had increased the number of projects in the new document but retained the overall budget figure.

“In everything you do, especially this government, you do integrity check. When you compile documents from various ministries at the budget office, they put together, especially as at that time that we will need to do the budget on time; if you have opportunity, you have to really look at it again to make sure of what they did.

“Along the way, there are two documents and they are before the Senate. If we start considering this document and for some reasons best known to us, we said let’s leave this and take the other one, we have the right to do that. That is why we are telling you now that we are taking this one; we left this one because we think it is not good for Nigeria and we are doing this.

“What I tried to do was to make a comparative analysis. So, I could not find the difference. But then they told me that the difference is not in the sub-total or sectoral allocation. They did integrity check and they gave me an example. That if a certain amount was allocated to do two things and because of integrity check, they feel that that amount can be used to do four things, they said instead of two things, do four. They are still talking about spending the same amount but getting more for it.

“But what I can tell you now is that the budget that was submitted originally, there were certain integrity checks on it that made some changes in the quantity but not in the total,” he said.

The Senate leader described calls by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the impeachment of Buhari as nothing but a ‘big joke’ He said in view of the further fall in crude oil prices in the international market last week to $29 per barrel, the Senate would reduce $38 benchmark earlier approved with the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

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