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2012 budget: Okonjo-Iweala brokers deal with lawmakers

By SONI DANIEL, ASSISTANT EDITOR
ABUJA— There were indications last night that the National Assembly might be favourably disposed to extending the deadline for the full implementation of the 2012 budget to the end of the year.

By implication, the lawmakers were no longer in the mood to impeach the President over the poor implementation of the budget at the end of this month.

The swing in the attitude of the lawmakers, it was learnt, stemmed from what some of the lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives described as ‘an encouraging implementation report’ presented by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to a close session of the two chambers’ committees on Finance and Appropriation last Thursday.

Okonjo-Iweala

The Minister, who is also the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, had met for over four hours with the Ahmed Muhammad Maccido-led Senate Committee on Appropriation, as well as Chairmen of other strategic committees in the National Assembly to brief them on the progress on the 2012 budget and consider the 2013-2015 Medium Term Fiscal Framework.

A source at the meeting told Vanguard that they were satisfied with the progress so far made since the impeachment threat was issued against the President two months ago.

The lawmaker pointed out that based on what the minister presented to them; they were tempted to give the Federal Government up to the end of the year to fully implement the budget.

He said: “I can say that from the mood of our members they were convinced that at least some milestones have been made by the Executive since we gave them the ultimatum over the budget.

“In reality, we have decided to give them up to the end of the year to implement the budget as passed because in the first place we reasoned that it would not be possible to implement the budget in full at the end of September.

“What we did was like a wake-up call on the government to do something about the budget and it has really moved them into action in the interest of the Nigerian people”.

a lawmaker at the meeting said, “during the meeting, the Minister of Finance pleaded with us to remember that the budget was passed in April and that it would be improper to give a September deadline to the government and we think that she made a point there.

“It is necessary to give them the benefit of the doubt to do something before the end of the year.”

It was learnt that the sum of N700 billion had so far been released by the ministry to the MDAs and that over N300 billion had been used.

The lawmakers, however, insisted that they had to undertake an urgent inspection of the said projects for which money had been released to ascertain the level of progress made before giving the Presidency a clean bill of health.

“We want to ascertain if indeed the said amount of money has been released to the MDAs and to find how far the money has been utilised”, he said.

In July, the lawmakers had given the President up to September ending to fully implement the budget or face its wrath before proceeding on a two-month vacation.

The unprecedented threat, coming from a legislature dominated by the President’s partymen rattled the government and triggered series of interventions, which analysts believe have finally paid off.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.