* May override Senate on passage
* Say budgetary allocation to solid minerals doesn’t reflect diversification of economy
By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE House of Representatives, yesterday, berated the executive arm of government for hampering early passage of the 2016 budget and promised to reconcile discrepancies in figures within one week to ensure that the budget is passed second week of March.
The House Committee on Appropriation will meet with the Minister of Finance and that of the Budget and National Planning next Thursday to reconcile all areas of differences.
This is just as the House Committee on Finance disclosed that the sum of N777.2 billion was recovered during the reconciliation of the subsidy payment last year.
Chairman of the Finance Committee, Rep Babangida Ibrahim gave the hint during the presentation of budget report from the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMFAC, Accountant -General of the Federation and Fiscal Responsibility Commission.
He also requested for additional sum of N118 million for personnel cost of the RMFAC, which was cut down by the Federal Ministry of Budget and Planning.
Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Rep. Abdulmumini Jibrin who accused the executive of slowing down the quick passage of the budget during the collation of reports from the 86 House Standing Committees also said that the House will no longer wait for the Senate for the conclusion of budget defence.
Jibrin who expressed worry over the way the executive arm is delaying quick passage of the budget through budget defence, said that even if the appropriation was to be re-written, three and half months were enough to do so.
According to him, “It is the executive arm that is putting us under pressure to see the budget passed. Some MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies) have failed to appear for budget defence.”
Collaborating his position the Chairman of Appropriation Committee, the Chairman of Petroleum Resources, downstream, Rep Joseph Akinlaja disclosed that the Minister of State for Petroleum Ibe Kachukwu failed to appear before the committee to defend the budgets of the ministry and that of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Rep Akinlaja said his committee sent a letter four times to the minister and rescheduled the defence in order to make it convenient for the minister to ensure for a peaceful collaboration between the executive and the legislature and to have a mutually agreeable time.
He said this never achieved anything result as the minister only sent a team of his officials from the ministry and NNPC because he was away for official engagement.
The Appropriation Committee Chairman, however, assured that the committee will wait for nobody again as it was ready to ensure it was passed as quickly as possible.
He said in the next one week, the figures will be reconciled and the House will align the budget with the policy thrust of government, adding that it was not going to wait for the Senate again having waited for one week to ensure the the Senate meet up with the House.
He noted that some of the committees that are yet to present their budget reports was as a result of the problem of harmonisation with the Senate, adding that the House will no longer wait for the Senate.
Jibrin regretted that going by the budgetary allocations to the critical sectors, there was no evidence that government was serious with the diversification of the economy especially in the area of solid minerals.
He said that the committee would work assiduously on the 2016 Budget defence reports and make necessary adjustments in order to save the country’s dwindling economy.
The appropriation Chairman promised that the Committee will look into various budgetary allocations to key sectors of the economy to ensure they are aligned with the policy thrust of the present government.