John Ameh and Leke Baiyewu, Abuja
The 2017 budget may get to the table of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday (today), findings by The PUNCH indicated on Tuesday.
It was learnt that the Legal Department of the National Assembly had already concluded work on cross-checking the details of the N7.441tn appropriation bill and was set to route it to the Presidency on Wednesday morning.
Sources at the National Assembly Liaison Office of the Presidency informed The PUNCH that the document had been initially scheduled to be transmitted to prudency on Tuesday.
One of the sources stated, “We have been in communication with the National Assembly. They told us to expect the budget today, but up till now, it hasn’t come.
“We now hear it will be tomorrow (today).”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Mr. Abdulrahman Kawu, confirmed that the office was expecting the budget today.
“It is Wednesday (today); at least, that was what I was told. So, we wait and see,” he added.
Kawu spoke amid speculation that the Presidency had already raised concerns over certain changes in the budget, though he declined to speak on the areas of possible disagreement when The PUNCH sought his reactions.
One of our correspondents gathered that issues were allegedly raised on some sub-heads in the budget of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.
“Some changes were made. They cut funds from some allocations by the executive and they added to other sub-heads.
“This will affect the implementation of the projects on these sub-heads,” one official told The PUNCH.
In the budget, power, works and housing ministry has a combined highest sectoral allocation of N586.534bn, up from the N529bn initially budgeted by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The National Assembly had passed a total of N7.441tn as the national budget on Thursday, last week, jacking it up by over N143bn above Buhari’s original N7.298tn.
The President had forwarded his estimates to the National Assembly on December 14, 2016.
The additional N143bn was spread across key federal road projects, the presidential amnesty programme and the National Assembly, among other sub-heads.
For instance, federal roads got additional N25bn.
Both the amnesty programme and the National Assembly got additional N10bn.
This shot up the budget of the National Assembly to N125bn from the N115bn it got in 2016, while the amnesty programme’s budget rose to N75bn from the N65bn proposed by Buhari.
The reconstruction of the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport gulped N5.8bn; additional personnel cost of 18 agencies, N5.1bn; subscription to Shelter Afrique, N3.6bn; National Identity Management Commission, N5bn; and backlog of corps members’ allowances, N13bn.
The total recurrent expenditure was raised to N2.987tn from the initial presidential vote of N2.979tn; and the capital vote from N2.058tn to N2.177tn.
Also, the Senate, on Tuesday, specifically confirmed that the 2017 Appropriation Bill, passed by the National Assembly, would be transmitted to the Presidency for assent latest by Wednesday.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, on Tuesday, said the National Assembly delayed transmission of the bill as the document was still undergoing legislative processes after it was passed on Thursday.
The Senate’s spokesman, however, explained that there were more legislative processes on the bill before it could be transmitted to the Presidency.
Sabi-Abdullahi stated, “If you are familiar with our procedures, you will see that the budget always carries some signatures.
“So, the two chairmen (of Committee on Appropriations) of the two chambers have to do that. And when they do that, it will be transmitted to the Clerk to the National Assembly, who will make sure that he also puts in his administrative process to form the document to the Presidency.
“The fact that we have approved it does not amount to the fact that it will move straight to the Presidency. Whichever way it goes, those who are responsible for processing this document have been doing that ever since we passed it. Any moment from now, either today or at most, tomorrow, they should be able to transmit it to the Presidency.”
Sabi-Abdullahi recalled that the Senate held a second session on Thursday to fast-track the final processes and transmission of the budget. (Punchng.com)