By Gift Chapi Odekina
Following the submission of the revised 2020 budget proposal by President Muhammadu Buhari, the House of Representatives has warned that Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) of federal government must desist from tampering with the 2020 budget.
The Chairman of the Appropriation Committee Rep. Muktar Aliyu Betara issued the warning in a statement in Abuja.
He noted that no MDA has powers to tinker with the budget as only the National Assembly is statutorily empowered to review, adjust, consider and pass budget.
The statement reads “there were reports that following the downward review of the budget from N10.59 trillion to N10.52 trillion due to the COVID-19 crisis and the dwindling oil prices, some MDA’s were already adjusting the budget proposal to suit their needs.
“such acts will not be condoned by the National Assembly as any MDA or official found to be engaged in such illegal practices will be made to face the music”.
“I want to warn that no other arm or department of government has any power over budget except the legislature, which is the National Assembly. It is only the National Assembly that can review the budget and we have begun the process.
“I would like to refresh the memory of those erring MDAs or officers of the Executive that sections 80- 84 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) confers appropriation powers on the parliament as well as its responsibilities over the national purse. So, nobody should engage any unlawful act concerning the budget”
He stressed that both the 1999 Constitution and Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 provide for no limitations on the National Assembly’s power to amend the Appropriations bill.
According to the Appropriation Committee Chairman, “Section 80 (4) specifically provided that ‘no money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly’, therefore, we shall not shirk in our responsibilities and we will also not hesitate to wield the big stick on whoever goes beyond his brief to tamper with the budget”
Betara informed that because of the importance the National Assembly attached to the budget, members of the relevant committees will continue work on it during the two-week Sallah break, stressing that “the break will not in any way affect our consideration of the budget because it is critical to the survival of our nation at this trying period”
He assured that the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation is committed to working with other relevant committees, the Senate and Executive to have workable and implementable budget to help the country overcome the negative economic effects of COVID-19.
“We hope to finish work on the budget in record time so that its implementation will still remain within the January -December budget cycle”, he stated.