2016 Budget Will Be Re-examined In National Interest – Dogara
Amid controversy over the Lagos-Calabar rail project and the tough stance adopted by the Senate, the House of Representatives has resolved to re-examine the 2016 budget, Speaker Yakubu Dogara said on Wednesday .
The House also asked the Speaker to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to resolve any fresh disagreement over the fiscal document.
The decision was reached after a 2-hour closed door session yesterday following reports that the joint appropriation committee had removed certain projects, including the N60 billion Lagos-Calabar rail and inserted projects worth billions of naira into the document.
Dogara told reporters that the House took the decision “in view of the prevailing economic situation and in the interest of our people”.
He said the House “will continue to engage the executive on the budget until we have a workable document”.
Recall that Mr. Buhari, who is presently on a working visit to China, withheld assent and directed each Ministry, Department and Agency to review their budgets again.
But the upper legislative chamber advised him to sign the 2016 Appropriation Bill as passed by the National Assembly and later send a supplementary budget to capture the coastal rail project and others not included in the original bill.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazaq Namdas, told reporters after Wednesday’s plenary that lawmakers were “fully briefed by the Chairman appropriation committee and we agreed as a chamber, that the House delegate the Speaker to please go ahead and engage the executive to identify the areas of concern and that he should report back to us with the hope that these things in the national interest and see that this country move forward”.
He added, “There are issues in particular, the Calabar Lagos Rail project that has been in the media. I want to reiterate here for the second time that the project was not among the project submitted by the President to the National Assembly.
“We are not saying that as a House that the Calabar Lagos rail project is not good, we know it is a viable project.
“Our own area of concern is that what people say that this thing was in the budget and we removed it. That is why we are making these clarification and again I want to state it clearly up till now as I speak there is no communication from the executive, the President to the National Assembly as I speak about the budget.
“All that we read in the media are other people’s opinions but Mr President has not come out clearly on this and this is my problem with the budget that has been passed because as we were told, the budget has been taken back to the ministries for them to examine and get back to the president”.