- Budget full of discrepancies – Ali Ndume
- Senate, Reps get formal notification today
Despite the fact that the members of the National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives) are yet to receive formal notification from President Muhammadu Buhari of the withdrawal of the original 2016 budget which he presented on 22ndDecember 2015, the Budget Office of the Federation uploaded the amended version of the budget on its website.
It is expected that Buhari’s letter would be read on the floor of both chambers today at plenary sittings.
The fresh copy of the budget uploaded to the website of the Budget Office of the Federation on Friday showed a massive cut by about 83.5 per cent in the total allocation for the vehicles.
Some of the highlights include the reduction of cost of purchase of brand new 5 BMW Saloon cars, jeeps and buses to N1.34 billion for use by the Presidency during the year.
In the original budget, the sum of N7.52 billion was provided for the purchase of various exotic vehicles, and another N566 million for the procurement of vehicles, including 16-seater Toyota Hiace coaster buses for the State House.
The amendment also contains other adjustments in the previous allocations to various departments and units in the Presidency.
Despite the adjustments to the allocations to the various departments and units, the total appropriation of N39.13 billion for the Presidency remained unchanged in both the previous and current budget versions.
Details of the different adjustments showed that State House headquarters, which got total allocation of N11.91 billion in the original budget has now been cut by N100 million, same as allocations for its recurrent costs, overheads, honorarium and sitting allowance as well as miscellaneous expenses.
In the same vein, the purchase of fixed assets, which received N4.57 billion previously, has drastically been reduced to about N1.2 billion, while preservation of the environment and wild life conservation, which got a total of N978.3 million, has now been reduced to N347.4 million.
N2.3 billion provided earlier for the construction and general provision of fixed assets as well as recreational facilities for the State House was removed, while rehabilitation and repairs of fixed assets previously allocated N4.48 billion was increased to N13.2 billion.
Also, Office of the Chief of Staff to the President had its initial allocation of N2.3 million raised to N22.3 million, while allocation to the Office of the Chief Security Adviser to the President has also been raised from N3.18 million to N28.18 million.
Details of the provision for the two offices include allocation of N25 million each for overhead costs, recurrent and miscellaneous expenditures. Another N25 million has been budgeted for honorarium and sitting allowance for the Office of the Chief of Staff.
State House Medical Centre has been allocated N100 million for total overheads and recurrent costs. State House, Lagos Liaison Office, which had its allocation increased from N126.7 million to N151.7 million, would get in addition N25 million each for recurrent, overhead and miscellaneous costs.
Meanwhile the Senate has pledged to pass the 2016 budget by the end of February 2016, before the expiration of 2015 budget in March.
Leader of the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume who made this known while speaking to newsmen yesterday in the National Assembly, Abuja said whatever happens he was sure the budget would be ready by that time.
Ali Ndume, however, alleged that there were discrepancies in the two versions of the N6.08 trillion 2016 budget made available to the National Assembly by the Presidency, following integrity checks conducted on them by the Senate.
He said there was nothing like disappearance of the 2016 budget document from the senate or from the House of Representatives as reported in the media but just discrepancies in figures discovered at the level of integrity checks.
“As I earlier stated, no budget is missing in the senate because it is not even possible for a document laid before a joint session of the National Assembly by a sitting President to miss.
“What only happened and blown out of proportion by the opposition are slight differences observed in copies of the documents at the level of integrity checks.
“But what I can tell you now is that, in 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.
He described the call for impeachment proceedings against President Muhammadu Buhari over the budget controversy as a bad joke from the opposition , saying, “If we are to consider the act of impunity committed at the presidency during PDP’s 16- year- rule, then Nigerians deserve to kill the party and anything it represents.
When asked about the punishment that awaits the Presidency over the integrity checks failure of the budget, Ndume said the President did not submit a failed budget but a budget that passed through integrity check of the senate showing some discrepancies that needed to be corrected.
He, however, said that in spite of the controversy trailing the budget document, the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly, will get it passed into law latest by the end of February this year.
His words: “We are targeting end of February to round off on the budget. In fact, if not for this mix up, we are committed to turning out the budget on time.”
Ndume added that the appearance of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele before the Senate todday over the dwindling fortune of the Naira in the international market, will be conducted behind closed door .
According to him, such an appearance is so sensitive to be made open because the Senate will want the CBN governor to be very frank on what can urgently be done by the government to rescue both the Naira and the economy from further fall .
“Honestly speaking, as a Nigerian, I am worried about how things are in the country now, the same way the Senate is”, the Senate Leader said.
Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki had announced that the upper chamber will today begin debate on the 2016 Appropriation Bill submitted to the joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 22, last year in Abuja.
Saraki, who made the announcement last Wednesday during plenary informed that the exercise will continue till Thursday, January 21.
Earlier last week, Ali Ndume was reported to have complained during a 90-minute closed-door meeting by the lawmakers that the budget was missing, but later denied the report.