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Senate rejects strange budget proposal from 52 parastatals

23 May 2014, 10:48

Abuja - There was uproar on the floor of the Senate on Thursday following a perceived re-introduction of 2014 budget proposal of some federal agencies for consideration by the senators.

The senators were agitated over an entry titled 2014 budget proposal of Federal Government parastatals, which was listed in the day's order Paper.

The senators unanimously condemned the attempt to present another budget for the federal agencies which were already captured in the recently passed 2014 national budget of N4.6 trillion.

The document read by the Deputy Senate Leader, Sen. Abdul Ningi contained 2014 Budget estimates for 52 federal agencies including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), among others.

Sen. Smart Adeyemi described the document as an attempt by the Executive to indirectly return the 2014 budget to the National Assembly through the back door.

"This amounts to indirectly returning the budget to the National Assembly through the back door.

"We have completed work on the budget and it is waiting to be assented to by Mr President.

"So, I do not see any reason for anybody to bring any budget or expenditure of any agency back to the chamber here,” he reacted.

Sen. James Manager said the re-introduction of the 2014 budget document amounted to rubbishing the work already done by senators on the 2014 budget.

Manager urged the senate to reject the document in its entirety because Nigerians were anxiously looked awaited the President's assent of the the budget

"This is strange. That means the committees did not do anything during the budget defence.

"Almost all the issues here have been dealt with during the budget defence. There are some isolated cases like the CBN.

Also rejecting the document, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe said: "We have already dealt with the budget.

"And if there is no substantive motion for rescission we can no longer consider anything that comes on this floor as a national budget."

Similarly, Sen. Ahmed Lawal urged the senators to throw out the document because it did not come as official communication from the President.

"I wish to note that even the tone of the correspondence and the way Rules and Business scheduled this is wrong because this is supposed to be a money bill.

"It should be noted that there was no letter read here with regards to this particular request by Mr President.

Sen. Ayogu Eze called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the re-introduction of the document by the Rules and Business Committee.

"If we had allowed this to slip through this chamber, it would have been a very dangerous development that would purport and assume on our Order Paper that there was communication from Mr President.

Responding, the Chairman, Rules and Business Committee, Sen. Ita Enang, explained that the document was presented alongside the national budget by the Budget Office.

Enang said the budget document was listed to ensure compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act which required that the budget proposals of the parastatals should be attached to the national budget estimates.

"This document is from the Budget Office of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance, Abuja.

"It came along with the national budget and this is not a document that I in any way had tampered with.

"It was produced and given to the Appropriations Committee and these copies are gotten from the Appropriations Committee and circulated.

Ruling on the matter, the Senate President, Sen. David Mark agreed with Enang that the document was in accordance with the directive that national budget must come with budget of the parastatals.

Mark said the the Rules and Business Committee should have listed out only few parastatals whose budgets were not  yet treated because majority were  captured in the 2014 budget.

He directed Enang to withdraw the document and list out only those agencies whose budget are yet to be treated before re-introducing the document on the floor of the senate.

-   NAN

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