National Assembly Denies Frustrating The Presentation Of 2017 Budget

By Ikenga Chronicles November 29, 2016

The Bukola Saraki-led National Assembly and the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal government on Monday, November 28 locked horns over the controversy surrounding the presentation of the 2017 budget.

This came as the upper legislative chamber described a statement credited to the Presidency as ‘’ spurious and malicious.’’

Recall that a source in the presidency has alleged on Sunday that the National Assembly was frustrating the presentation of the 2017 budget. The source stated that the non-implementation of constituency projects was the reason the National Assembly was frustrating the presentation.

Reacting in a strongly worded statement, the Senate Spokesman Aliyu Abdullahi, said that throughout the debate on Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), there was no mention of constituency projects, explaining that the debate only focused on problems associated with the document.

“The attention of the National Assembly has been drawn to a misleading, malicious and false report that the National Assembly is frustrating the submission of the 2017 Appropriation Bill because of the contention over the refusal of the presidency to approve the constituency project of the lawmakers.”

“The said story quoted an unnamed presidency official as its source. As much as the National Assembly does not respond to speculations in the media, it however wishes to state as follows:”

“The said news item is completely false. The Senate on November 22, 2016, at the plenary session deliberated on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) and passed it on to its legislative committees for necessary legislative actions and recommendations.”

“Throughout the debate at the plenary, no mention was made of the constituency projects of the lawmakers as it was not the subject of debate. Rather, the senators took time to comment on the observed deficiencies of the MTEF/FSP document before the National Assembly.”

“The senators observed the unrealistic aspect of the document pointing out that it was not in tune with realities on ground. For instance, the Senators that spoke complained against the crude oil benchmark projection and that expectation that over two million barrels of crude oil per day is being projected without taking into cognisance the militancy in the Niger Delta region.”

“The Senate at the plenary was alarmed on the naira projection to the US dollar, which was not in tandem with the current Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) projection of N350 to a US dollar, whereas the MTEF/FSP projected N290 to a US dollar.”

“The senators also complained against the projected Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and projected growth in 2017 and other issues. In none of these were the issue of constituency projects mentioned. It therefore beats the imagination where THISDAY and the so-called Presidency official got their information from. It must be a product of disinformation and an attempt to blackmail the National Assembly.”

“For the records, the Senate has discussed and passed the MTEF/FSP and subsequently referred it to the relevant Senate committee and the committee will come up with its recommendations as soon as possible” the statement noted.

However, the presidency has denied the report that stated that the National Assembly was frustrating the presentation of the 2017 budget, saying instead, the National Assembly was working effectively with it on the budget process.

Reacting on Monday night, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, said the presidency was not in any way accusing the National Assembly of frustrating the presentation of the budget, adding that the Minister of Budget and National Planning, the Minister of Finance, Director-General of Budget Office and other relevant individuals were working hard on preparation for presentation of the budget.”

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