The Presidency on Friday insisted that members of the National Assembly deliberately distorted the 2018 Budget presented to them by President Muhammadu Buhari in order to increase their allocation for constituency projects.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said this in a statement made available to journalists.
Adesina was reacting to the response of the National Assembly justifying its distortion of the 2018 Budget.
He said the Executive arm of government was surprised that with an additional N170bn available for the lawmakers for constituency projects and another N100bn provided for the same purpose in the budget, they still felt it was necessary to cut allocations to important national projects, and thereby distorting the budget.
The statement read, “Throughout the budget consideration process, the executive, through the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, was in touch with the National Assembly. The executive was approached by the National Assembly who indicated that they intended to increase the benchmark price by $5, from $45 to $50.
“Out of the $5 increase the National Assembly informed the Executive that they intended to utilise US$2 (amounting to about N170bn) for projects selected by themselves. They asked the Executive to suggest important projects that could be accommodated with the funds arising from the balance of $3.
“After some consideration, the Executive was of the view that an increase in the benchmark price of crude oil to $50 was not unrealistic and the President decided to accept this in the spirit of compromise required for a successful budget exercise.
“The Executive had, in that spirit, suggested that from the additional funds arising out of the $3 increase, $1.25 from the increase should not be appropriated as expenditure, but utilised to reduce the deficit in the budget. The Executive therefore restricted itself to submitting, for the consideration of the National Assembly, important items that could be funded from $1.75 of the $3 increase. NASS eventually raised the benchmark price to $51, apparently to accommodate the additional allocations to Health and NDDC.
“The Executive is therefore surprised that with an additional sum of N170bn available for the National Assembly to spend on Constituency Projects, together with the sum of N100bn, already provided for in the Budget, that the National Assembly should feel it necessary to cut allocations to important national projects, and thereby distort the Budget, in order to further increase their allocation for Constituency projects. How much is enough!”
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