NASS Justifies insertions on 2018 Budget (See Presented VS Approved Budget)

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The House of Representatives on Wednesday commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the 2018 Appropriation Bill as passed by the National Assembly.

In a statement by the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media and Publicity, Abdulrazak Namdas, the additions in the signed document were justifiable given the constitutional power of the legislature.

According to him, the budget is usually a proposal by the Executive to the National Assembly, which the latter has the constitutional power to alter, make additions or reduce as it may deem necessary. “The legislature is not expected to be a `rubber-stamp’ by simply approving the Executive’s proposals and returning the budget to the President. Therefore, the additions the president complained of in his speech are justifiable.

“We are on the same page with the president in his desire to return our budget cycle to January-December. “By the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), 2007, the budget estimates should be with the National Assembly around September of the year.

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“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,” he said.

The lawmaker also noted that there were delays from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) during budget defence, which made the process slow. “Besides, there were delays that should be blamed on the heads of MDAs. The president will recall that he had to direct ministers and heads of agencies to go to the National Assembly to defend their proposals.

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“This came after the National Assembly had persistently raised the alarm over the uncooperative attitude of these government officials. On these grounds, the delay in passing the budget cannot be blamed on the legislature,’’ he said. On the president’s observation of new projects in the budget, Namdas said “we have to remind the president that we are representatives of our people and wish to state that even the common man deserves mention in the budget.

“This is done 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.” He added.

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