THE Presidency said Saturday that it has no plans to reject the 2017 Budget which was recently approved by the National Assembly. In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senate, Senator Ita Enang, the presidency explained that at the moment, the budget was being subjected to serious scrutiny. According to him, at the end of the day, if the Presidency discovers grey areas or discrepancies, it would hold a meeting with the leadership of both the Senate and the House of Representatives for both the Executive and the legislature to be on the same page. Enang’s statement read in full, “The Presidency is working within the constitutional time-frame required to process details of the 2017 budget passed by the National Assembly. There is no such plan by it to reject the 2017 budget passed by the National Assembly as alleged in some reports. “The Presidency can only assent to the budget or withhold assent as the case maybe. However, should there be areas needing input, the Presidency would engage the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives. As such, any report suggesting a rejection of the 2017 budget by the presidency is incorrect. “Right now, the Presidency is subjecting every detail of the budget using the available systems at its disposal to ensure the figures appropriated to MDAs are consistent with the realities on ground, while also engaging in consultations. “When the budget was presented to both chambers of the National Assembly for consideration last year by President Muhammadu Buhari, both chambers subjected the document to legislative processes using internal systems at their disposal. “This, exactly, is what the presidency is actually doing at the moment to ensure what would be eventually assented to sufficiently addresses the nation’s present realities, as not doing so could expose government to a backlash from Nigerians.” It would be recalled that Presidency had last week said that no date has been fixed for assent to the passed 2017 Appropriation Bill, just as it said that consultations as to the signing of the document were still on going. The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Maters, Senate, Senator Ita Enang while responding to when the 2017 budget would be signed into law has simply said that, “Further to several enquiries regarding action on the 2017 Appropriation Bill by the Executive, be informed that Assent to same is not yet scheduled as consultations and engagements are on going. Be please informed.” It would be recalled that the Senate had on May 16th, 2017, explained that the need for authentication of the passed 2017 Appropriation Bill was the rationale behind the delay in the transmission of the document to the Executive arm of government for consideration and assent.
Addressing Journalists on the delay in transmission, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, APC, Niger North who explained that the passage of the budget document does not automatically translate that the document would be transmitted immediately, had said that the Joint committees on Appropriations still must carry out its assignment properly by not relenting on its oars.
Senator Abdullahi had said, “After the budget is passed, the appropriation committee has to do some authentication, to avoid just any kind of document flying around. Any moment from now (Tuesday afternoon) today or tomorrow, it would be transmitted to the Presidency. Let us allow those who have been given certain responsibilities to do their job, which must include certain protocols.
“Remember that we had to adjourn and reconvene to approve the votes and proceedings to allow them continue the process. If not, they would not be able to do anything on the document.
If we had waited till today (Tuesday) to approve the votes and proceedings, it means they would have to start today.” The defence on the delay came five days after the National Assembly had on May 11th, passed a total of N7,441,175,486,758 Appropriation Bill, which represented an increase of N143 billion from what was presented last December by President Muhammadu Buhari.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had presented the N7.298trillion budget to a joint session of the National Assembly on December 14, 2016 and had during the presentation, disclosed that his administration would pay more attention to infrastructure with roads and rail projects enjoying priority attention.
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