Reps fault 2019 budget! ...Says it contains “irreconcilable” figures — Nigerian Pilot News
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Reps fault 2019 budget! …Says it contains “irreconcilable” figures

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Reps fault 2019 budget! ...Says it contains “irreconcilable” figures

The hope that the House of Representatives will pass the 2019 Appropriation Bill submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari last month before the February elections was completely dashed yesterday as members unanimously frowned at its figures which they said contains “irreconcilable” figures.

For this reason, the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara after due consultations with Principal Officers of the House has directed the Ministers of Finance, Zaniab Ahmed and her Budget and Planning counterpart , Senator Udo Udoma to furnish the House with fresh and ‘reconcilable’ figures without further delay.

This has automatically sealed the hope of the parliamentarians passing the budget before February 16 Presidential and National Assembly elections as it is being speculated that both chambers of the National Assembly will proceed on recess today (Thursday) until after the elections.

However, despite the discovery of the discrepancies in the budget by Hon. Adamu Chika, member from Niger state, members began debate on its general principles as directed by the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara who noted that they would not delve into the details of the budget during the debate.

Though the total budget figure remained N8.83 trillion, the Speaker at this juncture directed the House Committees on Appropriation and Finance to liaise with the two relevant ministries to get the accurate figures to enable the House work on the budget appropriately.

The speaker said “honorable colleagues, having consulted with the leadership, there are so many irreconcilable differences in the figures presented, so while we continue with debate on the general principles of the budget, we direct relevant committee chairmen to liaise with the ministries involved.”

Dogara further pleaded with the two ministers of Finance, Budget/ Planning to present fresh and accurate figures to the House as soon as they receive the observations of members.

“I draw the attention of the Ministers to irreconcilable differences in the original figures submitted by Mr. President.

“Give us the reconciled figures,” the speaker pleads with the Ministers.

While making contributions to the budget debate, Hon. Adamu Chika drew his colleagues’ attention to the monumental differences in the budget figures of both the Finance and the Budget /Planning ministries.

He noted particularly instances where figures in the main Budget column (sub-heads) differ considerably with those on summary (total estimates).

Hon. Chika’s position was buttressed by Aliyu Pategi, who equally alluded to the huge discrepancies in the figures, following which debate on the budget was held up for over 30 minutes during which the Speaker consulted with his deputy, Majority Leader and other principal officers who all agreed that the two ministers should be called upon to represent fresh and accurate figures for quick consideration by the House.

The contribution of members during the debate was based mainly on poor implementation of budgets by the administration of President Muhhamadu Buhari.

The lawmakers nonetheless urged the executive arm to ensure prompt releases of funds if the country’s budget must progress and develop the people through infrastructure and empowerment.

Those who spoke on first allotted date for the debate are the Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuf Lasun, Hon. Tahir Munguno, Hon. Adamu Chika, Hon. Sergius Ogun, Hon. Aliyu Pategi, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, Hon.Sunday Karimi among others who are all of the opinion that the 2019 budget can make impact if well implemented

Majority leader, Hon. Gbajabiamila in the lead debate noted that the 2019 budget is aimed at stabilizing the economy in line with government’s economic recovery growth policy.

But deputy speaker, Lasun, faulted the entire budget process and noted that what we have always had is artificial budgeting which does not reflect the needs of the ever growing Nigeria population.

He noted that the quantum of this year’s budget, N8.83 trillion, according to the current exchange rate is about $28.5billion which according to him is inconsequential to the almost 200 million Nigerians.

Lasun argued that in terms of budget ratio to population, it was abysmal, when state tax revenue alone in the United States is over $100 billion adding that budgets of the country cannot adequately meet the infrastructural and other developmental yearnings of the people because the funds in real exchange value could not achieve much.

Others dwelt on the insensitivity of past and present administrations to implementing a full circle budget in spite of increasing revenues from Oil, Customs and Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS.

Debate on general principles of the budget continues today.

End

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