12 September 2012

Nigeria: House Orders Audit On Budget's Implementation

Barely one week to the end of its annual vacation, the House of Representatives has ordered a fresh audit of the implementation of the 2012 Appropriation Act.

In what could be interpreted as a subtle reminder of its threat to sanction the executive arm of government if the budget does not attain a reasonable level of implementation by September, the House said the information to be collated on the budget would form the basis of its decisions on resumption on Tuesday, next week.

Speaker of the House, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, who gave the order, instructed all standing committees of the House to conduct "a thorough appraisal" of the status of implementation of the 2012 Appropriation Act before the end of the recess.

In a letter addressed to the chairmen of the standing committees, the committees have been directed to ascertain the level of implementation of the budget in the respective ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) which they oversee.

The one-page letter signed by the Deputy Leader of the House, Hon. Leo Okuweh Ogor, read in parts: "In this regard, you are to request all ministries, departments and agencies that you oversight to submit the status of all releases of funds; how much has been accessed; contracts awarded; and general implementation status of the 2012 Appropriation Act.

"The above requested information should, after collation, be submitted to the office of the House Leader on or before September 18, 2012.

"You are to ensure strict compliance as the information collated will form the basis of the decision of the House on resumption."

The House had at its last plenary, before embarking on the recess in July, passed a resolution urging President Goodluck Jonathan to direct the finance minister to ensure the release of all funds due to the MDAs in respect of the 2012 budget and ensure full implementation of the budget by September.

The resolution was the product of a controversial motion that saw some members of the House threatening to consider "drafting articles of impeachment" against Jonathan if the budget did not attain 100 per cent implementation by the time the lawmakers resumed from their annual vacation.

The subtle threat, which was not passed as a resolution of the House, threw the executive into a frenzy, which was followed by the release of data on the extent of implementation of the budget and budgetary presentations by most of the ministers to the president.

But the implementation figures provided by the finance ministry was dismissed by the House as falling short of expectations, even when the lower chamber was reminded by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that the 2012 budget was only passed in April and would not attain 100 per cent implementation by September.

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