Following the consideration of the revised 2020 budget proposal by the National Assembly, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Rep. Muktar Betara has warned Ministries Department and Agencies (MDAs) of to desist from tampering with the budget.
Rep. Betara, who issued the warning in a statement in Abuja, declared that no MDA has the powers to tinker with the implementation of the budget as only the National Assembly is statutorily empowered to review, adjust, consider and pass budget.
He said that the House is aware that based on the downward review of the budget from N10.59 trillion to N10.52 trillion due to the COVID-19 pandemic and dwindling oil prices, some MDA’s were already adjusting their budget to suit their needs without recourse to the National Assembly.
The House committee chairman warned that such acts will not be condoned by the National Assembly as any MDA or official found to be engaged in such illegal practices will be made to face the music.
“I want to warn that no other arm or department of government has any power over the budget, except the legislature, which is the National Assembly.
It is only the National Assembly that can review the budget and we have begun the process.
“I would like to refresh the memory of those erring MDAs or officers of the executive that Sections 80- 84 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) confers appropriation powers on the parliament as well as its responsibilities over the national purse.
“So, nobody should engage in any unlawful act concerning the budget,” the lawmaker stated.
He stressed that both the 1999 Constitution and Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, provide for no limitations on the National Assembly’s power to amend the Appropriations Act.
The House Appropriation Committee Chairman, further averted that “Section 80 (4) specifically provided that “no money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.
“Therefore, we shall not shirk in our responsibilities and we will also not hesitate to wield the big stick on whoever goes beyond his brief to tamper with the budget.”
Rep. Betara added that because of the importance the National Assembly attaches to the budget, members of the relevant committees will continue work on it during the two-week Sallah break, stressing that “the break will not in any way affect our consideration of the budget because it is critical to the survival of our nation at this trying period.”
He assured that the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation was committed to working with other relevant committees, the Senate and the executive to have a workable, and implementable budget to help the country overcome the negative economic effects of COVID-19.
“We hope to finish work on the budget in record time so that its implementation will still remain within the January -December budget cycle,” he stated.