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Irritated by fraudulent allocations, National Assembly postpones budget passage indefinitely

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Irritated by fraudulent allocations, National Assembly postpones budget passage indefinitely

NEWISSUES, Abuja

The National Assembly has said it is no longer feasible to pass the 2016 budget proposal on February 25 as earlier scheduled.

The development is a result of “discrepancies, errors and ambiguities” inherent in the budget proposal, the lawmakers said.

At a joint press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, Danjuma Goje (APC-Gombe State), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation and Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC-Kano), his House of Representatives counterpart, said the National Assembly could not guarantee any future date for the passage of the budget.

The lawmakers denied any rift with the executive but said the National Assembly needed to do a “proper clean-up” of the budget.

“We need sufficient time to pass a comprehensive budget …. that is implementable and also acceptable,” Mr. Jibrin said.

He noted that the Presidency had admitted errors in the budget.

Two weeks ago, the Senate and the House of Representatives asked their respective Appropriations Committees to submit their reports on the budget on February 24, after rounds of defence by ministries, departments and agencies, to enable passage of the budget on February 25.

But media reports and appearances by officials before different committees of the National Assembly showed that the budget contained fraudulent, controversial and embarrassing allocations.

Last week, the Senate discovered a sum of N10 billion “questionably smuggled” into the budget of the Ministry of Education for a ‘questionable subhead’.

On Monday, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, disowned his ministry’s budget, saying “rats” had doctored the proposal.

“We have to look into the details of the budget and re-submit it to the committee,” Mr. Adewole told Senate Committee on Health.

“This was not what we submitted. We’ll submit another one. We don’t want anything foreign to creep into that budget. What we submitted is not there.”

On Tuesday, the Minister for Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, while appearing before the House of Representatives joint Committees on Power, Works and Housing, evaded questions on a certain N500 million proposed for “statutory” meetings and travels.

The allocation also covered street light, generators and other items but locations of projects were not provided.

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