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Deadlock as Ministers, NASS struggle to fine-tune budget

By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor

The nation may still have to wait a little more over the 2016 budget.

This is because the National Assembly committee and the one set up by the Presidency to rework the budget could not immediately work out answers to the issues that made the President to reject the budget in the first place.

But to get over the issues, key ministers in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday joined a select group of lawmakers from the National Assembly to try to resolve all the knotty issues surrounding the 2016 budget.

The two parties held series of meetings in the Office of the Budget and National Planning Minister, Sen. Udoma Udoma and later shifted to the Guest House of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, all in a bid to sort out the vexatious areas that have prevented Mr. President from assenting to the appropriation bill last month.

But competent sources at the meeting confirmed to Vanguard that the parties could not reach a common position on all the issues tabled for consideration.

budget

It was learnt that although the lawmakers had given the assurance that they would slash the amount they illegally injected to the budget by 85 percent, they could not easily effect the removal of that amount from the budget after working for almost a week.

A lawmaker explained that as at 7:30 pm last night, it was still difficult for them to arrive at a common figure to be presented to the President for his signature but declined to give reasons for the reasons behind the difficulty.

But another member, who requested for anonymity, said that the difficulty had to do with the inability of the lawmakers to fully comply with the removal of ‘padded’ projects amounting to about N500 billion from the budget.

The lawmakers said that although they were ready to reduce the padded amount by 85 percent, the final figure did not add up to what they actually presented to the president to sign.

“The real problem is that the budget figure does not really add up and we must continue to work to arrive at a figure,” the lawmaker from one of the Northern states, said last night.

When contacted last night, the Media Adviser to the Budget and National Planning Minister, Mr. James Akpandem, declined comment on the matter, insisting that the relevant committees raised by the government were working assiduously to get it signed.


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