Reps threaten to delay budget passage


By Ini Ekott

The House of Representatives yesterday said it might deny approval for this year’s N4.6 trillion budget, unless the 31agencies listed in the Fiscal Responsibility Act surrender their spending estimates for scrutiny as required by the law.

While the departments are exempted from routine annual budgeting, the Act demands that their financial plans for each year be tendered to the legislature by the Minister of Finance alongside the rest.

Section 21 of the 2007-legislation requires that the organisations, including mega groups like as the Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, lay the proposals before the National Assembly through the Minister of Finance.

Lawmakers say that this requirement has not been followed over the past years, arguing that the failure has been used as a cover by the organisations to unilaterally spend internally-generated funds without approval.

But, in a conflict seen as a highlight of the ambiguity of some federal laws, the 31 bodies, which also include the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Bureau of Public Enterprise, insist that the laws backing their creation granted them the needed waiver and the authority to spend such funds as they deemed fit.

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