by John Ameh and Oluwole Josiah, Abuja

 


Although N150bn was allocated to the National Assembly in 2013, the details were missing in the 2013 budget proposals now before the legislature.

The same amount was voted for it in 2012.

Unlike in the past when the breakdown of the allocations to the Senate and House of Representatives was attached to the budget, it was conspicuously missing in next year’s budget.

Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala | credits: File copy

Such details include the emolument of lawmakers, their running costs, committee votes and provisions for capital projects, as well as the allocations to the National Assembly Management Commission.

However, a bulk allocation of N150bn was entered for the National Assembly. Both chambers claimed on Thursday that it was the responsibility of the National Assembly to work out the breakdown in the course of considering the main budget.

The Senate spokesman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, said though the budget preparation was not done by the National Assembly, it would work out its own details.

He said, “The budget of the National Assembly is prepared by the agency of government. I think they can better explain the manner in which they have prepared the budget.

“We will definitely discuss the details of the National Assembly budget separately by both chambers of the National Assembly. The budget is there (N150bn), go and look at it, we are not hiding anything.

“The agencies of government which prepared the budget statements should have further explanations on the outlook of the budget.”

Speaking in the same vein, the Majority Leader, House of Representatives, Mrs. Mulikat Adeola-Akande, told one of our correspondents, “The National Assembly budget details are usually supplied by us.”

She admitted that the details were not in the main budget, saying that they would be worked out later.

“The details are not out yet,” she added.

The Deputy House Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, also admitted that there was a bulk figure but declined to comment on the missing details.

The National Assembly is on first line charge, receiving its allocation directly from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government.

The 2009, 2010 and 2011 budgets showed details of the money that went to the House of Representatives, the Senate and the National Assembly Service Commission.

They also contained the value of the recurrent and capital expenditure, as well as other overheads of the different sectors of the National Assembly.

The allocations to the Public Accounts Committees of both chambers were usually included.

But, in 2012, the detailed were not reflected in the main budget.

The development came as the 2013 Appropriation Bill passed second reading at the House on Thursday.

While debating the budget, members stood their ground to keep the crude oil benchmark at $80 per barrel.

They also maintained that the 2012 budget was poorly implemented and cautioned the Executive against a repeat performance next year.

However, some lawmakers gave an indication that the 2013 budget would be “restructured” in a bid to increase the capital component from N1.5tn to N2.1tn.

The Chairman, House Committee on Works, Mr. Ogbuefi Ozomgbachi, called for the restructuring of the template of the recurrent expenditure of ministries, departments and agencies of government.

He argued that a situation where all MDAs had the same template would encourage abuse of funds.

Ozomgbachi said, “The template of the Ministry of Works should be different from that of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and so on their needs are not the same; therefore, they should not have the same template.

“We are likely to save about N600bn if we do a radical restructuring of the budget. The money saved will be added to the capital provisions for the execution of capital projects.”

The budget of N4.9tn has a recurrent component of N2.4tn as against the N1.5tn voted for capital projects.

The Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, directed all committees to “painstakingly go through the overheads of all the MDAs and ensure that only the expenditure necessary for their functions are retained.”

The Speaker told the committees to channel the savings to capital projects.

Meanwhile, the House has adjourned plenary till November 6.

Tambuwal explained that the period would be used by committees to work on the 2013 budget.

 

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