Reps dump Jonathan’s request to amend 2013 budget

Inside the chambers of the House of Representatives

Members of the House of Reps say the president’s request should have come in form of a supplementary bill.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday threw out President Goodluck Jonathan’s request to inject an extra N160 million into the 2013 budget, faulting the president’s procedure, but deepening a lingering controversy that has left the budget struggle to start six months into its effective year.

The lawmakers said the president’s request for an amendment to the original appropriation bill could not be effected since the budget’s total sum had been raised by N160 million; meaning the president should have forwarded for a supplementary, and not an amendment bill.

“Mr. President’s intents and purposes are well communicated and conveyed in his letter of 14/3/2013 but the companion of the said letter, voluminous as it is, in three fat volumes, seeking to amend the 2013 Appropriation Act failed in that mission and therefore amends or attempts to amend nothing,” the house said in a report that reviewed President Jonathan’s request.

The House urged the president to consider resubmitting a “proper bill” as the constitution “clearly ties the hands of Parliament.”

It is not clear yet how the senate will respond to the request.

The House’s decision, however, draws out the controversy that government officials say has hindered the implementation of the 2013 budget.

The amendment plan was agreed between the president and the National Assembly as a way out of a prolonged refusal of the President Jonathan to sign the document after it was first passed in December 2012.

The president complained about “distortions” in the proposed spending he sent last year.

After a long wait, the leadership of the both chambers-senate and the House- urged Mr. Jonathan to approve the law as passed, but assured they will consider any concern from the president in form of an amendment bill.

Both houses received the amendment bill in March and gave the legislation a first reading before a member of the house, Yakubu Dogara, raised concerns with the new figures from N4, 987,220,425,601.00 initially originally passed, to N4, 987,382,196,690.00 requested for by the president. Mr. Dogara called the bill “2013 Appropriation Bill No.2”.

“Clearly, what the Amendment Bill 2013 seeks to appropriate is more than what was appropriated for the 2013 fiscal year in the 2013 Appropriation Act, that is to say, the Executive would appear to be seeking additional funds,” the House report stated.

“Obviously, this cannot be achieved through an Amendment Bill. The answer lies in a Supplementary Appropriation under section 81(4) of the Constitution.”

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