The delay in getting the 2017 budget ready for implementation may drag beyond expectations. This is because there are grey areas in the document, which the Presidency and the National Assembly leadership are yet to resolve.
It was learnt yesterday, that the meeting convened last week, at Aso Villa for the two parties to review the fiscal plan failed to hold and was rescheduled for this week.
The budget as passed by the National Assembly, it was learnt contains serious discrepancies when compared to what was submitted to it by President Muhammadu Buhari, on December 14, 2016.
The Presidency has, however, confirmed that it would engage the leadership of the National Assembly in some discussions to sort out whatever grey areas exist, even though it denied any plot to reject the document.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Solomon Ita Enang, in a statement yesterday evening said that: “The Presidency is working within the constitutional time-frame required to process details of the 2017 budget passed by the National Assembly. There is no such plan by it to reject the 2017 budget passed by the National Assembly as alleged in some reports. The Presidency can only assent to the budget or withhold assent as the case may be”
Enang made it clear that, “However, should there be areas needing input, the Presidency would engage the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives.”
According to him, “Right now, the Presidency is subjecting every detail of the budget, using the available systems at its disposal to ensure the figures appropriated to MDAs are consistent with the realities on ground, while also engaging in consultations.
“When the budget was presented to both chambers of the National Assembly for consideration last year by President Muhammadu Buhari, both chambers subjected the document to legislative processes using internal systems at their disposal. This, exactly, is what the Presidency is actually doing at the moment to ensure that what would be eventually assented to sufficiently addresses the nation’s present realities, as not doing so could expose government to a backlash from Nigerians,” Enang stated.
On his part, Presidential Liaison Officer to the National Assembly (House of Representatives), Alhaji Kawu Abdulrahman Sumaila, equally confirmed that assent to the budget is delayed due to the existence of some grey areas in the document.
Though the presidential aide did not shed light on the grey areas, he noted via a text message to The Guardian thus: “The Executive has identified some ‘grey areas’ that they want the National Assembly to adjust.”