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Reps bar Jonathan from submitting 2013 budget

BY OKEY NDIRIBE & EMMAN OVUAKPORIE
ABUJA — The House of Representatives, yesterday, made good its threat not to touch the 2013 budget until it was satisfied with the implementation of the 2012 budget. They refused to grant President Goodluck Jonathan’s request to lay the 2013 budget proposal next Thursday.

In furtherance of this, the House has suspended plenary for the whole of next week to enable committees carry out proper over-sight functions on Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.

The resolution was passed after a robust debate on the letter sent by the Presidency and read by Speaker Aminu Tambuwal during Tuesday plenary.

Tambuwal, who presided over yesterday’s plenary, pledged to liaise with the leadership of the Senate with a view to reaching a compromise on the budget presentation.

The legislators  had, during the debate on the letter, unanimously agreed that the budget proposal should be suspended until the House concludes its findings.

Speaking on the resolution, Abdulmumin Jubrin, Chairman, House Committee on Finance, who chaired the interactive session with Federal Ministry of Finance led by Yerima Ngama, Minister of State for Finance and Bright Okogwu, Director General of Budget Office, explained that the resolution was passed at plenary.

Jubrin who briefed the House on some of the issues raised during the ongoing interactive session with MDAs, bemoaned the state of budget implementation.

The lawmakers had on resumption from the eight-week annual recess decried the poor level of 2012 budget implementation and issued ultimatum to the executive to ensure timely release of funds approved for execution of capital projects to MDAs without further delay.

They also urged the President to direct Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Finance to release the third quarter for 2012.

During the debate on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Strategy Paper sent to both chambers last week, the lawmakers expressed concern over the absymal implementation of the 2012 budget despite increase in the revenue generation accruing to Federal Government.

Why we suspend plenary for next week

Also briefing journalists yesterday, spokesman of the House, Hon. Zakari Mohammed, explained that plenary was suspended to ensure “a proper implementation of the 2012 Appropriation before we look into the 2013 budget.

“We made it clear immediately we resumed from our annual recess that we shall embark on a one-week inspection of MDAs. So the President cannot present the budget on October 4.

“Hopefully, the House will resume on October 9, then we can look into it and see what can be done. Presenting the budget on October 4 is unrealistic.“

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