Federal Government, National Assembly battle over N152bn increase in 2013 amended budget

FRESH facts emerged on Tuesday over the nature of disagreement between the Federal Government and the two chambers of the National Assembly over the 2013 amended budget, as feelers from the legislature indicate that the sharp division is related to the N152 billion increase in the budget. Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, had, on Monday, said instead of sending an amended budget, a joint committee of the Senate had reported that the government sent a fresh budget. It was discovered that the new amended budget contained an increment of N152 billion over the original budget of N4.987 trillion passed in December 2012.

While President Goodluck Jonathan and the leaders of the National Assembly were said to have agreed on the need to review the 2013 budget, because of the removal of the recurrent votes of a number of ministries and parastatal agencies in the original budget, it was gathered that the error came into the fore because the National Assembly had calculated that many of the agencies would have been rationalised before the passage of the budget, thus their salaries and allowances contained in the recurrent votes were moved to other subheads.

But since the Federal Government is yet to rationalise the ministries and agencies, it became imperative to include the recurrent votes in the budget. National Assembly sources, however, said rather than sending the missing recurrent votes, it appears that President Jonathan had sent a fresh budget. A look at the amended budget now before the National Assembly indicates that the government had increased statutory transfers by N87 billion.



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