8 January 2014

Nigeria: Okonjo-Iweala - Reps Vow Not to Consider 2014 Budget Framework

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Following the failure of the minister of finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to meet the two-week deadline given to her to submit answers to the 50 questions on the state of the nation's economy, the House of Representatives Committee on Finance has declared that it will not consider the 2014 budget revenue framework.

This was disclosed by a source close to the committee who, while speaking to LEADERSHIP on condition of anonymity yesterday, said the decision was to show that they are serious about the investigation.

Adding that the committee will send a reminder to the minister to respond appropriately to the enquiry, he said: "As I am talking to you, the finance minister has not yet responded to our questions and we are not joking about it; we must be given these answers before we do any work on the budget revenue framework."

He added: "It is the sole responsibility of the finance committee to work on the revenue framework which will form the basis for the passage of the budget together with the expenditure framework which will be worked on by the appropriation committee. Therefore, we have decided that we will not open up the budget revenue framework until she responds to the 50 questions."

The committee led by Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC, Kano) had, on December 19, presented a set of 50 questions to the minister on the state of the economy with a two-week deadline to submit the answers.

However, no correspondence has been received from the minister on the subject even as the two-week period ended last week.

Going further, the lawmaker said contrary to the general perception that the committee rudely walked the minister out of the meeting, the circumstances necessitated the action.

He explained that the committee had granted the minister leave (because she said she was ill) to go receive treatment but she later said she had changed her mind and insisted that she was fit enough to answer the questions. This was rejected by the committee members who felt that she needed to be fit to answer the questions, more so when the gavel had been hit by the chairman. According to parliamentary procedures, when the gavel is banged by the chairman conveying a decision, it is irreversible.

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