Confusion is trailing the N6.08 trillion 2016 budget earlier submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, following information that the document has been amended.
Sources at the Budget Office revealed that the Presidency retrieved the 2016 budget from the National Assembly to “adjust some figures.”
In its response, however, the Presidency dismissed the claim outright and insisted that the budget is still with the federal legislature.
On his part, Senate Leader Ali Ndume said the budget details were only adjusted and insisted it was a normal process, as the estimates submitted by the President were still proposals.
Ndume denied the alleged withdrawal of the appropriation bill from the National Assembly.
“It is not possible to withdraw it after it (the budget) had been laid. What the executive can do is to make adjustments through the various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs)
“The figures contained in the budget proposal, as it were before the National Assembly now, is not sacrosant. It could be altered and adjusted.”
Giving details on the retrieval of the budget, a competent source at Budget Office told Daily Sun that the Executive recalled the document “to work on some of the budget estimates since lawmakers are on holiday, after a particular political party criticised some allocations and sub-heads.”
The source also noted, “the essence of withdrawing the budget proposal was to carry out minor adjustments.”
He said the Presidency only “adjusted” the budget, “which cannot be described as withdrawal of the budget. It is not withdrawal of the budget per se. There were only a few adjustments here and there.”
When contacted yesterday, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, told Daily Sun that the 2016 budget was still with the National Assembly.
He insisted that not only was the document with the National Assembly, his office was in the process of reproducing copies of the original document laid before the joint session on December 15 for consideration when lawmakers resume from the Yuletide recess.
Said he: “I’ve the documents here with me, which we are reproducing as they were originally submitted to the National Assembly by Mr. President in four green envelopes.
“The budget was presented as two bills; one for the Senate and one for the House of Representatives. It’s a bill for each house of the National Assembly. If any figure is going to be changed, if at all, it would be after it has passed second reading and the ministers have appeared before the sub-committees of the Appropriation Committees in each house to defend the budget… It may be after the Second Reading that the figures may change, if at all…. Please, there’s nothing to it.
“The president did not retrieve any budget.”
Senate Spokesman, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, claimed ignorance of any communication regarding the alleged budget withdrawal.
More details soon.