Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Economy suffers as FG, NASS play Ping-Pong with budget

With few weeks already gone in the second quarter, many Nigerians are wondering why the 2016 budget is yet to be passed. The worries over the  prolonged delay in the passage of the budget is more than justified given the fact that the economy has literally been in slumber these past months.
The genesis of the crisis began when the issue of the ‘missing budget’ made headlines in December. That led to hoopla with the issue of budget padding, when it was discovered that some persons had sexed up the figures in the budget for their selfish aggrandisement.

As to be expected, the Buhari government whose image was sullied and badly bruised over the budget padding fiasco vowed to get to the root of the matter. The controversial budget was withdrawn for resubmission to the NASS.

That process was concluded and the NASS sealed, signed and delivered what in their reckoning was a foolproof document for the assent of Mr. President.

That, however was not the end of the matter. Learning from experience, President Muhammadu Buhari didn’t want to be caught napping this time around hence he decided to look at the document submitted by the NASS with a fine-tooth comb and his worse fears were confirmed. Again there were a lot of discrepancies with the document.

This time a crisis of confidence erupted in the Senate and House of Representatives as some members alleged that the budget details were not made available to them before submission to President Buhari.

But some Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) had on Monday submitted evidence of how some projects were omitted in the budget details including the Calabar-Lagos rail line, which now took a focal point in the crisis between both arms of government.

The Ministry of Transportation insisted that the rail line was actually in the budget and defended by its minister, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi. But the Senate maintains that it was not, and even called for the resignation of Amaechi over the issue.

The legislature however gave the executive what they felt was a breather by asking it to submit the estimates for the Calabar-Lagos rail line project in a supplementary budget, an offer the executive is yet to accept.

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