Buhari withholds assent to 2016 budget as NASS fails to send details

FILE: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and President Muhammadu Buhari at the National Economic Council Retreat ... On March 21, 2016 PHOTO CREDIT: STATE HOUSE PHOTO

President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to sign the 2016 budget a week after the document was sent to him by the National Assembly, presidency officials said Tuesday, further delaying the implementation of a budget the government hopes will help Nigeria out of its present economic crisis.

A top presidency official said Mr. Buhari could not sign the budget because the passed budget had no details.

The official said almost a week after the National Assembly passed the 2016 Appropriation Bill, details of the approved Appropriation Bill were yet to be transmitted to the president.

The source said Mr. Buhari had been anxious to give assent to the Bill, but that he was concerned that signing the budget without details may give approval to an un-implementable spending plan.

“The president has not been able to sign the Bill into law because he does not know what is contained in the details and what adjustments the National Assembly made to the proposal sent to them last December,” the official told PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday.

The source, who did not want his name disclosed as he was not authorised to comment on the issue in his official capacity, said the delay in transmitting the details could mean that the National Assembly either did not complete work on the budget, or were “playing politics” with the passage of the document.


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He said the president was disappointed that his desire to see the immediate implementation of the provisions to ease the tension in the economy and polity would have to tarry a little longer till when the details were transmitted to him and the adjustments are found to be implementable.

The harmonised N6.06 trillion budget was finally passed by both chambers of the National Assembly last Wednesday after weeks of bickering over controversial allocations in the N6.08 trillion proposal submitted by Mr. Buhari on December 22, 2015.

Details of the approved appropriation showed that N1.59 trillion was allocated for capital expenditure, and N2.65 trillion for recurrent expenditure, while about N1.48 trillion was approved for debt servicing.

The lawmakers also approved about N2.2 trillion as deficit, with N500 billion going for social intervention projects and N351.4billion for Statutory transfers.

The final assent to the budget is sure to suffer another delay for at least one more week as Mr. Buhari leaves Abuja Wednesday to attend a Nuclear Summit in Washington DC, USA.

When contacted, the Senate spokesperson, Abdullahi Sabi, said he would not comment on the issue, but he assured that the National Assembly would not do anything to sabotage the collective interest of all Nigerians.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje, did not answer several calls to his telephone on Tuesday. He did not also respond to the text message sent to him on the issue.


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