By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbobosco Agbakwuru, with agency report
ABUJA—SENATE Leader, Ali Ndume, yesterday, said the Senate would strive to pass the 2016 budget before the end of March.
This came on a day the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazak Namdas, said submission of the 2016 budget on February 25 might still be realisable.
The Senate Leader said March was the deadline for the implementation of the 2015 budget, adding that it was the desire of the Senate to pass the 2016 budget before that time
He said contrary to reports, the Senate did not suspend its passage indefinitely, but only said that the February 25 deadline ‘may not be feasible’.
He said it was the wish of the National Assembly to pass the budget five weeks before the expiration of the period set for the implementation of the 2015 budget, but that was not possible due to some errors.
He said: “We have not postponed it indefinitely; we are saying that with the current developments, the February 25 deadline we gave ourselves may not be realistic.
“That is why we now said it is not possible to say we will come back on 25th and say this is the budget; we are not saying that we have suspended it indefinitely.
“The reason we fixed 25th was because we wanted to have a gap of five weeks.”
He said the gap would have enabled the Senate fix whatever issues needed to be handled before the lapsing of the March 31 deadline for the implementation of the 2015 budget.
Ndume said the National Assembly leadership had met with ministers to iron out the grey areas and make corrections.
He also assured that the Senate would ensure strict compliance with the implementation of the budget.
He said that once funds were available, he was convinced that the present administration would ensure thorough implementation of the budget.
However, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazak Namdas, has said submission of the 2016 budget on February 25 might still be realizable.
Namdas hinged his position on the fact that in the last two weeks, the House had done an extensive work on the budget as most stakeholders had defended their budget proposals.
He, however, refuted a report by a media outfit, Media Support Centre, which alleged fraudulent activities by members of the National Assembly in the handling of constituency projects between 2013 and 2015.
At an interaction with journalists in Abuja at the weekend, Namdas said the National Assembly would be worried if a media outfit will be calling for the scrapping of constituency projects, adding that in most cases constituency, projects were the saving grace.
“It is obvious that the media support centre do not know how constituency projects are managed.
“Law makers are never given a penny to carry out constituency projects. Constituency projects are appropriated to the relevant MDAs. No cash is given to a law maker.
“Therefore, to say law makers diverted monies meant for constituency projects demonstrate not only lack of understanding of constituency projects, but also a desperate attempt by few individuals to set law makers against their constituents, “he said.
The Chairman assured that the 8th House of Representatives will do things differently including ensuring that constituency projects get to the people adding that the present crop of law makers have zero tolerance for corruption.
Namdas further begged for the understanding of Nigerians on the 2016 budget adding the House is working very hard in collaboration with the Executive to ensure that the budget is passed speedily.