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Budget Padding: NASS Right, Didn’t Break Law – Minister

Budget Padding: NASS Right, Didn’t Break Law - Minister

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ρBudget Padding: NASS Right, Didn’t Break Law – Minister

The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Sen. Atiku Bagudu, has stated that the National Assembly did not violate any laws with the new insertions in the 2024 budget.

Bagudu stated this during a press conference in Abuja, saying,” since 1999, it has been customary for the National Assembly to include new line items in the Appropriation Bill bill to fund specific projects in their constituencies.

He added that this practice often results in an increase in the approved budget from what was initially presented by the president.

Recall that the Senate has been enmeshed in a padding scandal following allegations by now-suspended Bauchi Central lawmaker Abdul Ningi that the sum of N3.7 trillion in the budget was not tied to any project.

Ningi was reported to have made the claim during a BBC Hausa Service interview last weekend.

Following the allegations levelled against the red chamber, the Senate has suspended Ningi, asking him not to participate in all the activities of the 10th Senate.

He said, “There has been a long debate, and a former president went up to the Supreme Court to define the appropriation power of the executive and the National Assembly. Later, there was an out-of-court settlement. Until now, this issue has not been resolved.

“So, what is the power of the National Assembly as regards the budget? There is no Supreme Court judgement, and the choice of our democracy is that the National Assembly has the last word. Even when they pass an appropriation, that assent is refused, and after 30 days, it becomes law.

“Do they have the right to increase a budget line? I will say yes.”

He also mentioned that there is a misunderstanding regarding why budgets for agencies classified as statutory transfers do not have their budget line items disclosed.

His words: “These are transfers for agencies that are created by the constitution or legislation. So, they have the right to draw up their own budget. They can be supervised by a committee, but it is not the federal government that appropriates for them; the most popular ones are the NJC, FCT, Tertiary Education Trust Fund, NEDC, NDDC, and others,” he said.

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