Centre for Social Justice, CSJ, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the budget bill as presented by the National Assembly and bring a supplementary budget for projects that had been left out, or an amendment bill to re-programme funds budgeted in his areas of concern.
The CSJ lead director, Eze Onyekpere disclosed this in a press statement made available to journalists in Abuja yesterday, after briefing them on the delay of the 2016 budget.
Onyekpere in the statement urged the federal government to ensure that its fiscal and financial affairs were conducted in a transparent manner and accordingly, ensure full and timely disclosure, wide publication of all transactions, decisions involving public revenues and expenditures and their implications for its finances.
The group said that the allegations of projects and activities which were either reprogrammed or their funds reduced or increased, or even the allegation of new projects introduced into the budget showed the poor or limited consultation and collaboration between the executive and the legislature in budget preparation and approval.
“The statement credited to the Minister of Budget and National Planning that rail line was omitted in error in the estimates goes to show the quality of work that went into the preparation of the budget and the undergirding Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, 2016-2018 would have been reduced if the executive and legislature understand that they must work together to produce a budget that commits to national development,” the statement posited.
CSJ suggested that Mr. President should immediately initiate dialogue with the National Assembly, setting out the areas of concern so as to resolve the logjam, adding that the dialogue must not exceed the next one week.
Onyekpere in the statement said that this is middle of the second quarter of 2016 and any further delay is like laying a granite foundation for failure of the 2016 federal budget.
He said that this is the time the Ministry of Budget and National Planning should be focused on preparing the 2017-2019 MTEF and the background to the 2017 federal budget estimates.
The CSJ’s lead director therefore called for speedy resolution of the budget crisis through constructive engagement of the legislature.

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