(By Chioma Peters)-Nigeria’s House of Representatives has explained that, while the “budget is usually a proposal by the executive to the national assembly, which the latter is given the constitutional power of appropriation to alter, make additions, costs or reduce as it may deem necessary”, that “the Legislature is not expected to be a rubber-stamp by simply approving the Executive proposals and returning the budget to Mr. President”.
In a swift response to alarm raised by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday before signing the 2018 Budget that he is concerned about some of the changes that the National Assembly made to the budget presented to it by the Executive that knows and defines its policies and projects, the House of Representatives, in a statement issued by it’s spokesman, AbdulRazak Namdas, insisted that their action was justified, adding that the national assembly has the constitutional power of appropriation to alter, make additions, costs or reduce a proposed project from the executive as it may deem necessary.
Responding to alleged slow legislative process after the presentation of the budget proposal by the president, the statement argued that, while the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, stated that the budget estimates should be with the national assembly around September of the year, that executive brought the 2018 budget late in November 2017.
They therefore counseled the executive to speed up the reporting time to the National Assembly by complying fully with the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Recall that at the Budget signing ceremony , the president had made some observations, namely, that:
“ The National Assembly made cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to 578 billion Naira.
“ Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation. Some of the new projects inserted by the National Assembly have not been properly conceptualized, designed and costed and will therefore be difficult to execute.
“Many of these new projects introduced by the National Assembly have been added to the budgets of most MDAs with no consideration for institutional capacity to execute them or the incremental recurrent expenditure that may be required.
“Some of these projects relate to matters that are the responsibility of the States and Local Governments, and for which the Federal Government should therefore not be unduly burdened.
“Notwithstanding the delay this year, I am determined to continue to work with the National Assembly towards improving the budgeting process and restoring our country to the January-December fiscal cycle”, the president stated.