The House of Representatives yesterday commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the 2018 Appropriation Bill into law.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Abdulrazak Namdas, it however, maintained that the decision to inject additional projects into the budget was in line with the powers conferred on it by the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Specifically, it noted that the inclusion of zonal intervention projects in the budget was in line with the wishes and aspiration of Nigerians.
Namdas also said there was nothing awkward with the N150 billion budgeted for the National Assembly on the basis that it had been underfunded over the years.
“The budget is usually a proposal from the Executive to the National Assembly, which the latter is given the constitutional powers of appropriation to alter, make additions, costs or reduce as it may deem necessary.
“The Legislature is not expected to be a rubber-stamp by simply approving the Executive proposals and returning the budget to Mr. President.
Therefore, the additions the President complained of in his speech are justifiable.
“We are on the same page with Mr. President in his desire to return our budget cycle to January-December.
By the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, the budget estimates should be with the National Assembly around September of each year.
“In the case of the 2018 budget, the estimates came behind schedule in November 2017, although 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,” the statement reads.
On new projects in the budget, the House reminded Mr. President that they were representatives of the people, adding that even the common man deserves a mention in the budget by including projects that would affect his life positively.
It explained that before 2015, its budget was N150 billion for several years but that it was reduced to N120b in 2015 and further down to N115b in 2016. In 2017, the budget was N125b and N139.5b in 2018.
“This means that the budget of the National Assembly is still far below the N150b in the years before 2015,” it added.
Meanwhile, Chief Whip of the House, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, noted that President Buhari’s observations were critical to the successful implementation of the budget.
“I think some of these major concerns Mr. President has raised are very critical. Speaking as an individual and a member of the House, I want to believe that the President is at liberty to raise some of the observations,” he said.
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