By Jude Opara
The smooth passage of the 2019 budget may have suffered a setback after members of the House of Representatives who on Wednesday began debate on it uncovered what they described as irreconcilable figures in the budget estimates of the Federal Government in ministries, departments and agencies.
The Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara had called on the House Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila to move the motion for the second reading of the budget which was seconded by Hon. Edward Pwajok who chairs the House Committee on Rules and Business.
Recall that the second reading of the budget had twice been postponed but after the reading, the debate on the general principles of the N8.83 trillion 2019 budget began in earnest with only 43 members seated.
The budget was entitled: “A bill for An Act to authorize the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, the total sum of N8,826,636,578,915 (Eight Hundred and Twenty-Six Billion, Six Hundred and Twenty Six Billion, Six Hundred and Thirty-Six Million, Five Hundred and Twenty-Seven Million, Five Hundred and Seventy-Eight Thousand, Nine Hundred and Fifteen Naira only of which N492,360,342,965 is for Statutory Transfers, N2,264,014,113,092 is for Debt Service, N4,,038,557, 664,767 is for Reccurent Expenditure while the sum of N,031,704,458,092 is for contribution to Development for Capital Expenditure for the year ending on 31 December 2019”.
However, as soon as the House Leader concluded his debate on the need for the budget to be passed, Hon. China Adamu (APC, Niger) and Hon. Ahmad Patigi (Kwara PDP) pointed out that there were a lot of discrepancies in the budget estimates of the MDAs in the document.
According to them, in the budget of the MDAs, the figures for various subheads did not match with the total amount earmarked as their total budget.
This observation prompted the Speaker Hon. Yakubu Dogara to immediately scan through the document after which he announced that indeed there were irreconcilable differences in the budget estimates.
Dogara then mandated the Committee on Appropriation to immediately put the Minister of Budget and National Planning on notice to urgently correct the irreconcilable differences in figures presented in the 2019 budget.
The House thereafter deferred further debate on the budget to Thursday January 24, 2019 for the relevant House committees to interface with the relevant ministers to address the discrepancies.