The National Assembly is expected to pass the 2016 Appropriation Bill on February 25. The House of Representatives also said on Wednesday that the N6.07tn proposed by the executive as the total size of the budget would be retained and passed.
The Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, said in Abuja that the standing committees of the House working on the details of the budget had been instructed to stick to the budget size.
However, Jibrin said that adjustments would be made to the details by moving funds where they might not be useful to areas they would be needed.
For example, he cited a trend in the past where each Ministry, Department and Agency of the Federal Government must buy computers/accessories every year as an area that needed to be looked into.
Jibrin noted that the “copy and paste” approach to budgeting in which all the MDAs produced a uniform template would be stopped this year by moving such funds to areas of urgent need.
“The budget size will be retained. We have advised the committees to stick to the envelopes of the MDAs. The committees can move the money across the details of the budget to reflect areas of need,” he explained.
The legislator added that no organ of government, including the Presidency, would be exempted from the alterations of the budget details.
The House had earlier criticised the N4bn voted for the Aso Rock Clinic and another N3.5bn earmarked for the purchase of vehicles, besides the renovation of buildings in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Senate too plans to spend about N4.7bn on cars, while the House will spent around N3bn for the same purpose.
Jibrin, however, failed to comment on whether or not the National Assembly’s proposals would be slashed as well.
Several agencies of government had voted between N5bn and N15bn for the procurement of vehicles and accessories.
Jibrin also spoke on the $38 proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari as the crude oil benchmark price for the budget and confirmed that both the Senate and the House had agreed that the figure was no longer realistic.
He said the House Committee on Appropriation would continue to monitor the fluctuations in crude oil prices until February 11 when it would begin to collate the reports of the standing committees before deciding on a realistic benchmark.
“It is our thinking that the benchmark will be adjusted to reflect the pricing realities of the moment. We will peg it at a very safe figure that will be more realistic,” Jibrin stated.
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Aviation abruptly adjourned its budget defence session with the aviation agencies on Wednesday following the news of a Bristow Helicopter’s crash in Lagos.
The Chairman of the committee, Mrs. Nkiruka Onyejeocha, told stakeholders that she was shifting the session to a later date because of the accident.
She said, “As we speak, we hear that about 15 persons were involved. We cannot confirm whether they are dead, injured or alive. But, we are dealing with lives and we have to be concerned.
“I will have to release the aviation agencies to return to Lagos and do whatever they have to do to assist in the situation. We can no longer hold this budget defence session today. We are adjourning to a later date to be communicated to everybody.”
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