By Yusuf Alli and Nduka Chiejina, Abuja
THE President is yet to sign the budget because of some technical errors in the document, The Nation learnt at the weekend.
But the Budget Office and National Assembly committees may meet this week to “clean up” the document. After the clean-up, the Budget Office will then advise Dr Goodluck Jonathan to sign the document or not.
After harmonisation, the Senate and the House of Representatives on March 15 passed a budget of N4.88 trillion with a benchmark of $72 per barrel.
The vote was increased from N4.65 trillion proposed by the Executive.
It was gathered that although the budget was passed on March 15, the Executive did not get the details until last Wednesday from the National Assembly.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The main bill was submitted two weeks ago, but the government did not get the details until March 28.
“These details were about 3,000 pages and upon the receipt of these, the Budget Office and the Ministry of Finance worked round the clock to analyse the details.
“The Budget Office had completed the analysis yesterday but it noticed some technical errors in the bill as passed by the National Assembly.
“These technical errors have to be cleaned up before the Budget Office can advise the President to assent the 2012 budget or not.”
Asked to be specific on the technical errors, the source added: “For example, there are some ongoing projects in the Niger Delta but no money was allocated for their completion. The funds meant for the projects were put elsewhere.
“Also, since the National Assembly raised the benchmark to $72 per barrel, it means automatically that statutory funds for the NDDC and the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) will go up. But the reverse was the case in the bill sent.
“We have many other errors like that which we need to clean up.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “There is no disagreement between the Presidency and the National Assembly at all on this budget.”
Another official in the Budget Office said: “The budget has not been sent to the President for his signature because of some “irregularities” with the budget the legislators passed.
“The irregularities noticed in the 2012 budget by the ministry and the Budget Office had to do with some components of the budget like the administrative capital which the Executive had drastically reduced to free up more money for infrastructure development. The National Assembly retained some of the Administrative Capital.
“Administrative capital deals with the funds in the budget set aside for the provision of office furniture and equipment, which the government believes could be forfeited to make more money available for other serious capital projects – in line with the administration’s desire to deliver on social infrastructure.
“Also, the budget figures for the Legislature were said to have been jacked up by the National Assembly. This does not go well with the Executive.”
Despite these irregularities, the Budget Office official said President Jonathan is anxious to sign the 2012 Budget into law.
The official also denied any friction between the executive and the legislature, stating that “the executive has done its ground work to ensure that there is no conflict of interest between both arms of government”.