National Assembly can alter budget, says Dogara
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has reiterated that the National Assembly has power to increase budgetary proposals submitted to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.“Those who contend that the National Assembly cannot increase the budget but can only reduce it are trying to import the British parliamentary law into a presidential system of government,” he said.
He also urged Buhari to make full disclosure of the national budget size, including sources of revenue and expenditure of all government agencies.Dogara spoke in Abuja at an event tagged: Conversation on Reforming the Budgetary Process in Nigeria.
He called for a critical look at financial year, to ensure a 12-month period is completed before another budget implementation begins. He also stressed the need to complete ongoing projects before new ones are introduced, to curb wasteful spending.
The Speaker said: “It is as a result of all these observed anomalies and need for change and reform that I recently announced that the House will set up a Budget Reform Committee, to undertake a thorough and holistic review of all issues relating to the budget, to ensure due process, more transparency, better accountability, openness and value for money. This committee will comprise experts and professional organisations, and will work in liaison with the Senate and the Executive branch.”
On Section 318 of the Constitution, Dogara said: “A situation where an approved budget is not allowed to operate for 12 months is constitutionally unacceptable. This is the main reason for failure of budget implementation every year and the cause of abandoned projects that litter the Nigerian landscape.”
“When projects are not completed, the nation is terribly shortchanged, as the money and effort invested is lost. We must institute a compulsory mechanism that rolls over major projects that are not completed in one budget year into the following year’s budget. The current practice of not including ongoing projects in the following year’s budget is a huge waste of resources.”
Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State said: “It is our firm belief that if more stakeholders, especially the major players in the process, can gain greater insight into the whole system of budgeting, and if the National Assembly, as an arm of government, can attain the dexterity demanded, to examine the budgetary estimates submitted yearly by the President, there will be less attrition and mistrust between the two arms of government.
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