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Tougher times ahead as executive, legislative arms delay 2018 budget


National Assembly

Tougher times await Nigerians following the threat last week to shut-out 63 parastatals and government corporations from accessing funds from the 2018 budget over alleged refusal to appear before the relevant committees of the National Assembly to explain how they spent 2017 budget as well as defend the 2018 estimates before the National Assembly.

The implication of the threat if executed is that such agencies which cut across all sectors, from finance, agriculture, works, health, education, petroleum as well as the social services would not function in the country for the year, with the attendant pains arising from their lack of operation.

Sometimes around 2014, the National Assembly in similar action withheld appropriation to the Securities and Exchange Commission ( SEC) to carry out any capital projects following a face- off between it and the then Director General, Arume Otteh.The lead Director of Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a civil society organisation, Mr. Thank Eze Onyekpere wondered why till date the affected agencies were yet to appear and defend their spending estimates as well as explained how the last year votes were spent.He however appealed to the National Assembly to extend the ultimatum by one week with the deadline being the end of February this year.

In his own intervention, a Development Economist and Mr. Tope Fasua, Chief Executive Officer of Global Analytics Consulting Limited said the need for the agencies to personally appear has become more imperative than before giving the quantum of sleeze being perpetrated by the MDAs.
“ It is mandatory that the agencies’ head must appear to throw more light on some of the estimates which sometimes appear duplicated.’’

Attempts to get the Minister of Budget and National Planning , Senator Udoma Udo Udoma and Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze to offer insights to the issue as well as the complete list of the affected 63 agencies were not successful.

However, a presidency source who spoke on condition of anonymity declared that most of the affected agencies had sent their top most management team to represent them at the National Assembly committee engagements but the legislative members sent them away because such people are not in a position to sign deals with them.’’

“The committee members are economical with the truth. Let them come out openly and say what they are looking for. I think two things are involved here: first, they are looking for an alibi to say they are not delaying the budget passage, and secondly, I think because they are looking for under the table deals with some agencies, that’s why they insist that their CEOs who are in position of signing MoU s with them must appear as they can not trust third parties that cannot guarantee the security of their deals. But I think when we get to the bridge, we shall cross it,” he said.

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