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Buhari Didnâ€™t Withdraw 2016 Budget, Say Presidency
By GclefAmplified Jan 06, 2016
The presidency has denied the report yesterday in a national daily (not THISDAY) that President Muhammadu Buhari had withdrawn the 2016 budget estimates that he presented to the National Assembly on December 22, 2015, describing it as untrue.http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/buhari-didn-t-withdraw-2016-budget-say-presidency-senate/229625/
In the same vein, the Senate denied knowledge of the withdrawal, saying if there’s a need for adjustment in the budget, the president will merely send it to the National Assembly while it is being considered without any necessity for its withdrawal.
Speaking with journalists on behalf of the presidency at the National Assembly yesterday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, said budget withdrawal was an official matter which could not be done in secret but could only be done through official correspondence between the Presidency and the National Assembly.
According to him, if there is any need for adjustment in the budget, it would be done at the background through the relevant committees after the second reading of the Appropriation Bill without any need for a withdrawal as claimed by the report.
In his bid to buttress his submission that the budget was not withdrawn, Enang told some National Assembly correspondents to come to his office and see the document lying intact.
He said: “To my knowledge, the budget as laid by Mr. President on the December 22, 2015 is still with the National Assembly and has not been withdrawn. If there is a withdrawal, there is always a communication and budget is not a sensitive thing that it cannot be dealt with behind the scene. It can be worked on behind the scene after second reading. After second reading, the different committees will work on the budget but it has not been read a second time so, it cannot be dealt with before then.”
On its part, the Senate said it was not aware of any withdrawal of the budget by the president, saying instead, debate on the budget may begin next week as the National Assembly prepares to resume from its three week Christmas break on Tuesday.
Deputy Senate Leader, Ibn N’Allah, who made this remark said in his capacity as deputy senate leader, he was not aware of any withdrawal adding that if the insinuation was true, the All Progressives Congress (APC) senators would duly be privy to the information.
“I’m not aware of any withdrawal. I just came from the village yesterday and l will return tomorrow. Ordinarily, as members of the APC, we should officially be able to know if there’s anything near to that.
“When we resume, we will settle down immediately into the issue of passing the budget. We might begin debate on the general principles of the budget next week and then dissolve into the committee to quickly ensure that the budget is passed as quickly as possible so that government business can start with no delay,” Na’Allah said.
On Monday, when the rumour first filtered into the landscape, Senate’s spokesman, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, had told journalists that he was not aware of any attempt to withdraw the budget.
Other senators contacted by journalists on the subject matter such as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Babajide Omoworare and Senator Kabiru, also said they were not aware of any withdrawal.
Said Gaya: “I don’t think it has been withdrawn but whatever the case is, the figure of the entire budget will not change. Mostly, it is adjustment of priority projects. During the media chat recently, the president specifically mentioned some few projects especially some important roads in the country. It is possible that some of the roads may not have been reflected in the budget.
“There is no way if the president speaks on something, that may be part of his campaign promises and I think, he will try and do it. He also spoke about the railway and that there is a counterpart funding to be put in to the project. So if the figure under the subhead is not defined, then he has the right to readjust it and bring it back to us. The adjustment can also be done even while we are still discussing the budget. Once the main figure did not change, it is possible to make the adjustment.
“Both chambers of the National Assembly will for instance, tinker with the figures especially as it affects overheads. If we are cutting 30 percent from the National Assembly budget, then it has to be done pro rata. We must cut across 30 percent across the agencies, the ministries and all other government parastatals. There are duplications of figures like purchase of computers. When all the duplications are discovered, it is necessary to take them out.”
The report had claimed that Buhari secretly withdrew the budget in reaction to the range of criticisms accompanying the budget figures. It cited the editorial of The Nation newspaper on Sunday which identified a lot of loopholes in the budget.
The report further claimed that the alleged withdrawn budget would not return to the National Assembly until the end of January.
In his reaction to the allegation, Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, said without mincing words that it was practically impossible for the president to withdraw the budget after it had been duly laid before the National Assembly.
He said: “It is impossible to withdraw the budget. It is not a document that you can just write and say you are withdrawing it. The budget proposal that has been laid at a joint session of the National Assembly cannot just be withdrawn like that. Budget proposal is not a document that is sacrosanct; you can adjust it and this is why it is before us. During the budget defence, it can be adjusted if need be,” he said.