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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Budget Amendment Scales Second Reading

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The House of Representatives on Thursday bowed to pressure and passed for
second reading of the proposed amendments to the 2013 Budget.

The budget was also referred to the Committees on Finance and Appropriations
for further work.

The Leader of the House, Mulikat Akande-Adeola, appealed to her colleagues to
pass the bill to enable the executive realize its transformation agenda for the
year.
Contributing to the debate, Samson Osagie, minority whip of the House, tasked
the committees on Finance, Appropriations and other relevant committees to take
the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) on a one-by-one basis to
thoroughly defend their personnel costs before the amendment.

Arguing that the budget amendment Bill was not responsible for the
non-implementation of the budget, Osagie insisted that “we must establish that
the claims in the amendment proposal are true before the final passage.”

Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Speaker of the House, however, noticed that some members
were spoiling for another fight against the amendment, and pleaded with his
colleagues to allow the Bill pass through second reading so that a thorough
work could be done on the document at the committee level to resolve all the
issues in the proposed amendments.

Recall that the National Assembly had passed the sum of N4.987 trillion as the
national budget for the 2013 fiscal year on December 20, 2012, with a N63
billion increase from the N4.924 trillion President Goodluck Jonathan had proposed
without any explanation.

Jonathan, who was not comfortable with some of the allocations made to various
sectors of the economy and projects, brought an amendment bill to the National
Assembly in March, but the House did not deliberate on the bill until June when
it shelved it, citing constitutional reasons.

But Jonathan insisted that it would be difficult to implement the budget
without amendment.

Although the lower chamber did not reject the bill, it was obvious that the
lawmakers were not willing to consider the amendment because they argued that
the Constitution provided for supplementary budget and not an amendment.

But with the pressure from the executive arm and explanations made to the House
Joint Committee on Finance and Appropriations on Tuesday this week by Ngozi
Okonjo-Iweala, minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, on
the need for the amendment to be done, the House decided to jettison its
grievances on the budget and passed it.

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