The National Assembly said yesterday that details of the 2016 budget would be ready in the next two weeks.
This means the budget will be ready for President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent three weeks after its passage by the National Assembly on Wednesday last week.
The two chambers reportedly forwarded the budget highlights to the president for his assent, but he was reported to have declined assent without the details.
Following the presentation of the budget on December 22 last year, both the House and the Senate set a February 25 deadline for its passage, but they later postponed it twice until March 23 when the lawmakers finally passed it.
Addressing a news conference yesterday in Abuja, the chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Rep Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC, Kano) said both the Senate and the House Committees on Appropriation were working on the details which he said would be ready in two weeks.
“At the moment, we’re working on the details of the budget. We’ll take a week or two to work on the details. We’re doing the final harmonization. We’re looking at the various reports of the committees,” he said.
He said that there was nothing abnormal about the delay in the details as it was done in the past.
“We had instances where Obasanjo signed the budget without the details. Yar’Adua came and he preferred to see the details. So, if President Muhammadu Buhari prefers to see the details before assenting to the bill, I don’t think we should make a big deal out of it. It’s absolutely normal,” he said.
On the insinuations that the budget issue was politicized, Jibrin said: “It is all unfounded. We have the power to appropriate and we’ll continue to do that.”
Reminded that the lifespan of the implementation of the 2015 budget would elapses today (Thursday), Jibrin said constitutionally, the president has the powers to authorize the spending of certain amounts of money out of the yet-to-be-assented 2016 budget.
“This is the most difficult budget we have ever dealt with. The MTEF and the budget came late. With all the challenges we had, I doubt if the executive would be throwing stones at the National Assembly.
“Even while we were dealing with all such realities, multiple budget details came up and we were able to manage the situation in a very friendly manner with the executive,” he said.
He added that they had worked day and night to ensure passage of the budget and that the legislature “has been very generous to the executive” on the budget.
He said he and Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe) who chairs the Senate appropriation committee had advised the budget team to submit the estimates and work on the details for at least two weeks before returning to the parliament due to the hasty manner in which the budget was prepared, but that their advice was not heeded at the time.
Meanwhile, the presidency said yesterday that it was still waiting for the budget details from the National Assembly before the president could assent it.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Suleiman Abdulrahman Kawu Sumaila, said in a statement in Abuja that the legislature was yet to conclude the traditional practice of budget passage.
Kawu, a former three term member of the House and a two term principal officer, said sending the budget’s highlights to the president without the details was against the practice of parliament.