National Assembly can’t increase budget, says Fashola
•Enang faults appropriation procedures since 1999
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola says it is inappropriate for the National Assembly to unilaterally increase the budget since it does not collect taxes.
Addressing a session on collaboration between the executive and the legislature in the budgeting process at the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) conference in Port Harcourt yesterday, he argued that the legislators cannot make appropriation over a matter they do not have responsibility.
Fashola explained that the primary duty of the legislators was not merely to make laws but also to effectively represent their constituencies.
The minister noted that while he could not say the lawmakers should not influence what some call constituency projects, he, however, maintained that they cannot make appropriation over a sensitive matter such as revenue generation to fund the budget.
He asserted that planning development of the country was not a parliamentary work, but that of the executive.
Fashola said it was worrisome for the lawmakers to appropriate N100 billion for building of primary health care, schools and tricycles in the name of constituency projects at the expense of national highway projects in the 2016 budget.
Speaking in the same vein, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly matters, Senator Ita Enang, has said the entire appropriation passed since 1999 had been illegal, arguing that the exercise was always consummated at the committee level thus depriving all legislators full participation.
Enang, who spoke on “Fresh perspective in legislative practice: who makes the law?” at the event, said the crisis plaguing the National Assembly over the 2016 budget was because the chamber has over the years subjected the budget processes to committees instead of the entire parliament.
“The entire appropriation passed since 1999 had been illegal because none of them were part of the vote and proceedings of the House,” he remarked.
Enang explained that under the law, it was only the clerk that has powers to authenticate passed bills.