DRAMA: N’ASSEMBLY INCREASES ITS BUDGET TO N150BN, LAYS 2017 APPROPRIATION BILL THURSDAY

• To open its budget to public scrutiny
Owing to rising inflation and the depreciation of the
naira, the National Assembly, which for years has
faced criticism over the lack of transparency and
accountability over its budget, has increased its
2017 budget in this year’s Appropriation Bill to
N150 billion from the initial proposal of N120
billion.

image

This is just as the Appropriation Committees of the
Senate and House of Representatives would
Thursday lay the 2017 budget ahead of its
consideration next week.

It was gathered that the 2017 Appropriation Bill to
be laid Thursday would include details of the
appropriated expenditure (expenditure line items and
sub-heads) of the National Assembly, in line with
the promise made by its leadership to make public
the details of its budget.
However, could not confirm if the federal
government’s budget was increased, reduced or
retained at N7.3 trillion as proposed by the
executive.

A source in the Senate explained that the legislature
had to increase its budget to N150 billion, as it
could no longer deploy the pooled resources for
services provided in the National Assembly.

“We are opening our budget to scrutiny and since
we are doing that, there are more exigencies such
as services being provided in the National
Assembly, they are getting more money.

“More importantly, now that we are opening the
budget, it means we have to account for all the
activities: the monies used to clean the House and
Senate, for instance. We use cleaning agencies for
this, as we do not have civil servants who clean the
premises. It is done on a contractual agreement.
We also have people fuelling the generators and all
that.

“As against what happened in the past, when we
just went into a pool of funds and took the money,
now there is need to account for every naira that is
spent.

“So they had to get the kind of costing applicable
for those things, and in the process of getting the
official costing for these things, some of these
services have increased due to the foreign exchange
rate. These include the cost of diesel; purchase of
utility vehicle; etc, which have all increased.

“As such, it is even good that we are now
accounting for it,” the source explained.
Another source added that it was necessary for
Nigerians not to continue to hold on to the
impression that the budget of the legislature is for
the 109 senators and 360 House members alone.

“The budget is for the National Assembly and its
three agencies: National Assembly Service
Commission, National Institute for Legislative
Studies and the Public Complaints Commission.

“The National Assembly alone has at least 3,500
staff and over 5,000 legislative aides. They are all
paid from within this budget,” he said.

The source further revealed that consideration of the
federal budget would likely start next Tuesday and
may last for at least two weeks.

“Consideration may start next week, and this will be
in line with the agreement we had and the speech
of the Speaker when we resumed from the break,
when he said the National Assembly would pass
the details of the 2017 budget, not the summary.
“What this means is that it would take more than
three legislative days, at least a minimum of two
weeks.

“The fact that the 2016 budget would elapse on
Friday does not mean government cannot continue
spending. The constitution allows the government
to go to the Consolidated Revenue Fund and start
spending the equivalent of half of the 2017 budget.
“So there will be no shutdown, they would continue
to pay the salaries of workers,” he explained further.

Advertisements