How NASS padded Buhari’s budget

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President Muhammadu Buhari may be clashing with the National Assembly again over the 2016 budget.

The lawmakers, sources in the presidency say, have chipped away at the outlays voted for major capital projects close to Buhari’s heart in 2016.

The revelations came after the V.P Yemi Osinbajo-led economic team pored over the amended 2016 Appropriation Bill the NASS sent the president last Thursday.

So he may not be in a hurry to give his assent.

Among the capital expenditures the legislature knocked out was the N60 billion -Calabar-Lagos coastal rail line for which Buhari had already buttoned up a loan arrangement with China.

He was in Beijing on the weekend for that reason.

The lawmakers also pinched N8.7 billion off the amount voted for the completion of the Idu-Kaduna railway project almost completed.

The Lagos-Kano provision was left untouched, though.

All the rail projects are to be funded jointly by China and Nigeria.

ALSO SEE: Budget crisis: Buhari avoiding fiscal booby traps

The economic team also discovered that  the monies voted for the completion of all major road projects across the nation were reduced by the lawmakers. They added their own new projects for which there are no studies yet.

Estimates for HIV/AIDS, polio campaigns were also deleted, and the votes shunted to purchase of ambulances which the ministry of health didn’t budget for at all.

The NASS also removed—or sometimes reduced—the votes for agriculture and water resources, adding it to rural health and borehole provision already covered.

While the lawmakers boast the president cannot tamper with any line of the amendment, Buhari has insisted he will bide his time in studying it.

President Buhari presented the 2016 budget proposal, a N6.8 trillion bill largely cobbled up by the civil servants, last December to the NASS.

But trouble began when the lawmakers claimed the proposal was padded—a position Buhari later admitted, and for which his ministers blamed budget rats and mafia in the Establishment.

 

 

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