18 February 2013

Nigeria: 2013 Budget Not Padded - Reps

Abuja — CHAIRMAN of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, John Owan Enoh, has declared that the National Assembly never padded the 2013 budget.

He also stated that the National Assembly had enormous constitutional powers that required no further court interpretation to override President Goodluck Jonathan's veto on the 2013 Appropriation Bill.

Enoh who appeared at the inaugural media hot seat series organised by the House of Representatives Press Corps, weekend, said "we have no doubt on the constitutional powers we have, and so would not approach the court."

He said the legislature had been offered 30 days constitutionally to override the President's veto on any Bill, adding that by his calculation, the required 30 days had not expired on the 2013 Appropriation Bill.

Both legislative Houses had separately passed the 2013 Appropriation Bill of N4.987 trillion on December 20, 2012 but this was yet to be assented to by President Jonathan following differential issues which Enoh said the executive and the legislature were meeting to resolve.

According to him, the allegation that the budget Bill was returned by the Presidency to the National Assembly was untrue, as he noted that "the channel of returning any Bill, not just the Appropriation Bill is usually formal, and that has not been done.

"If the assent was done soon, there is hope that the country would do better in terms of budget implementation than the previous years."

Enoh, however, conceded that he was personally worried as Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations that its work remained uncompleted until the Bill becomes law, especially with its early passage.

He, however, denied that the National Assembly padded the budget for selfish reasons. "The word padding (of budget) is not a civil language in a democracy," he said.

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