2018 Budget: House Of Representatives Reacts To Buhari's Claims
Are we expecting a war of words to follow the signing of the 2018 budget?
The president has raised concern over the delay in the passage of the 2018 budget by lawmakers and the strange projects introduced by the National Assembly on Wednesday.
After the President's speech before he passed the budget circulated, the House of Representatives issued a statement, responding to the president's comments.
First it commended the President for signing the 2018 Appropriation Bill into law.
On the President's concern that some allocations were cut while some figures were added, the House of Representatives emphasised that "the budget is usually a proposal by the Executive to the National Assembly, which the latter is given the constitutional power of appropriation to alter, make additions, costs or reduce as it may deem necessary".
"The Legislature is not expected to be a rubber-stamp by simply approving the Executive proposals and returning the budget to Mr President. Therefore, the additions Mr. President complained of in his speech are justifiable".
On the delay in the passage of the 2018 budget that was presented to the National Assembly in November, the House of Representatives also expressed its support for President Buhari's desire to return our budget cycle to January-December.
But the lawmakers also highlighted the budget came behind schedule.
"By the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, the budget estimates should be with the National Assembly around September of the year.
"In the case of the 2018 budget, the estimates came behind schedule in November 2017, even though this attempt was seen as one of the earliest in recent years. Going forward, we urge the Executive to speed up the reporting time to the National Assembly by complying fully with the FRA," the statement read.
The lawmakers then blamed Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the government for the further delay after the budget was submitted.
"Besides, there were delays that should be blamed on the heads of MDAs.
"Mr. President will recall that he had to direct ministers and heads of agencies to go to the National Assembly to defend their proposals.
"This came after the National Assembly had persistently raised the alarm over the non-cooperative attitudes of these government officials. On this grounds, the delay in passing the budget cannot be blamed on the legislature," the statement by the spokesman for the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, read.
The Common Man Deserves A Place
According to President Buhari, the executive arm of government had noticed cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduction of 6,403 projects of their own amounting to 578 billion Naira.
On this inclusions, the House of Representatives also put up a defence.
"New projects in budget. On this aspect, we have to remind Mr President that we are representatives of our people and wish to state that even the common man deserves a mention in the budget by including projects that will directly affect his life positively.
"Some of the projects designed by the executive, as high-sounding as their names suggest, do not meet the needs of the common man," the House of Representatives explained.
On the National Assembly budget, the House of Representatives also has a few explanations to its decisions.
"Before 2015, the budget of the National Assembly was 150 billion Naira for several years. It was cut down to 120 billion Naira in 2015 and further down to 115 billion Naira in 2016.
"In 2017, the budget was 125 billion and 139.5 billion in 2018. This means that the budget of the National Assembly is still far below the 150 billion Naira in the years before 2015," the statement further read.
The lawmakers then commended President Buhari for a good working relationship, but highlighted that they also had a job to do, that required adequate funding as well.
"The additional costs and projects to the budget were done in good faith for the sole purpose of improving the lives of Nigerians.
"Finally, we welcome the proposal by Mr. President to forward a supplementary budget to the National Assembly to address other areas of pressing demands and commend the President and the entire executive arm for a cordial working relationship," the lawmakers stated.