President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday returned the 2013 budget to the National Assembly demanding significant amendments as well as withdrawal of some conditions the legislators have inserted into the Appropriation Act.
He is also seeking an increase in the SURE-P vote but he did not indicate by how much, as well as the restoration of SEC vote which the legislators cancelled demanding the Director General Orumah Oteh be sacked over corruption allegations and violation of SEC rule.
The return of the budget for amendment was expected because it was on that condition that the President had agreed to sign the budget recently after weeks of disagreement with the legislators.
Jonathan, in a letter dated March 14, 2013, addressed to the two chambers of the National Assembly demands that cuts in personnel cost across the service be restored and that billions of naira for constituency projects made by the legislators be removed.
He also said their demand for quarterly briefings on the releases of funds to ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as well as detailed information on their (MDAs) internally generated revenue is "injurious to the spirit of separation of powers and which could hamper the work of the executive arm of government".
He is specifically seeking a review of the clause 6 (ii) which requires the Accountant-General of the Federation to forward to the National Assembly full details of funds released to the government agencies immediately such funds are released; and clause 9 which demands accounting officers of ministries, parastatals and departments to furnish the National Assembly on quarterly basis with detailed information on the Internally Generated Revenue of their agencies.
According to him, both clauses should be reviewed because they "run counter to the established chain of reporting."
The president is also seeking a review of the clause which demands the Minister of Finance shall ensure that funds appropriated under this Act are released to the appropriate agencies as and when due, and that no funds for any quarter of the fiscal year shall be deferred without prior waiver from the National Assembly.
But the President said: "the nation experiences a shortfall in revenue once in a while and if the minister is to seek a waiver on each occasion, the practice would tie down budget implementation as this would involve the minister writing a formal letter to the National Assembly, presented in plenary and sent to the relevant committees for discussion. These would create delays and constraints on the budget implementation."
On subjecting Sec expenditure to National Assembly control, Jonathan said the clause ought not to have been inserted in the first place since "the budget of the Securities and Exchange Commission does not form part of the core 2013 Federal Budget as presented to the National Assembly", adding that "the import of the clause is tantamount to shutting down the business of the commission with a potential negative impact on the capital market."