Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, says the delay in the conclusion of work on the 2016 budget is regrettable, ascribing the circumstance to what he called ‘blending process of a largely new team getting to know each other’.
Mr Fashola made the statement on Monday while responding to questions about why the budget had not been concluded four months after it was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The former Lagos State Governor, told Channels Television that meetings have been held to resolve the grey areas, expressing hopes that the budget would be passed soon.
He said: “It is regrettable. That is the way I put it personally, that we are having some issues.
“I think that the best way to explain this is that when you have a largely new team getting to know each other – a lot of newly elected parliamentarians, new executives… you need to blend.
“As the team blends people realise the limitations of their roles – who should do what and who should not do what.
“I think this will pass. The highest levels of the executives and the levels of the legislature are meeting to work out the grey areas and the areas of who should do what really.
“They (the issues) are symbolic of the emerging democratic culture that we have imbibed. People wanting to be involved everywhere.
“The meeting is a continuous engagement and quite a lot of it has been reported. Sometimes it is led by the Vice President, sometimes by the President himself, sometimes by the Minister of Budget and National Planning meeting with appropriation committee”.
Constituency Projects Issues
On the issues that had led to the delay, he said: “Some of these issues come from constituency projects because people expect the legislators to build road. Legislators are not elected to build road.
“There is nowhere in the constituency projects are written into the constitution.
“The responsibility for formulating developmental policies essentially rests with the executive and that is why the Constitution says the executive should present the estimate for appropriation.
“I understand the disposition of the parliamentarians to want to influence projects into their constituency”.
Mr Fashola also pointed out that his ministry had lost a lot of dry weather at a period it needed to ramp up work.
“We just can’t wait to get going.
“It is also important that all of us must reinforce importance of the budget as the article of faith of government and it is important in the lives of the ordinary people. Without it the government cannot spend money.
“It is important not only that we get it right, but that we get it out on time,” he stated.
The Minister further expressed hopes that it would be the last time that this would happen and advised that the parties should play by the strict rules of the Constitution.
“The constituency projects at federal level should be limited to those things that the federal government has responsibilities for – federal highways, railways, federal hospitals, federal colleges and others.
“It will then be appropriate for a constituent to ask questions about their projects,” he stressed.
He further emphasised the need for consultation between the executive and the legislature in the process of drawing up the budget.
Source: Channels TV