By SUNDAY ODIBASHI
THE waiting game on the 2016 budget ended last week when the National Assembly transmitted details of the enacted budget to President Muhammadu Buhari. Accordingly, the President is expected to, from this week, begin the cracking of the budget pills which delayed his assent to the enactment of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
The President had, penultimate week, declined signing the Budget Act into law on the reason that he needs to scrutinize the details of the fiscal document to ensure that appropriations approved are congruent with the original proposal presented to the joint session of the National Assembly in December 2015.
The inherent contradictions, particularly, the mix-up at the early stage of the budgeting processes, generated skepticism about the effectiveness of the bureaucracy in wielding inter-governmental routine duties. However, those contradictions provided sufficient reasons for the President to insist on proper scrutiny of the budget before pending his signature.
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The National Assembly had submitted details of the budget to Senator Ita Enang, Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters to the President, for onward transmission to President Buhari. Enang was, however, gathered to have delivered the bulky document last Thursday, said to be about 1,800 pages, to Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to the President.
Abba Kyari led Senator Eta Enang, Senior Special Assistant to President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), and Hon. Kawu Ismaila, Special Assistant to President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives) to deliver the budget proposal to the President of the Senate in December 2015 for legislation.
The budgeting delay has affected the fiscal year of the 2016 budget which commenced from April 1 as the 2015 budget ended on March 31. Basically, the delay may renew the crisis of fiscal discipline since the President is permitted to spend certain amount of funds while the budget is still being processes.
In the past, there have been disagreements between the National Assembly and the Presidency on over-spending of budget appropriations. Perhaps, the President may have a subtle temptation to resist on excess spending in the budget.