National Assembly Spends 25% Of Budget â€“ Sanusi Reaffirms
ABUJA, Dec 07, (THEWILL) - The Governor of Central Bank, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi today reaffirmed his submission that the National Assembly was allocated 25 percent of the recurrent expenditure of the federal government's budget in the 2010. Sanusi reaffirmed his position while appearing before the Joint Committee of the House on Finance, Appropriation, Banking, Currency and narcotics, Drugs and Financial Crimes. The CBN governor had appeared before the Senate last week where he told the senators that he had no apology over the comments credited to him. Chairman of the joint committee and Minority Leader of the House, Hon. Ali Ndume who conducted the investigation had in his opening remarks noted that the exercise was just for clarification sake and not meant to witch hunt anybody. Ndume and Chairman of Finance and Appropriation Committees, Hon. John Enoh and and Ayo Adeseun faulted the presentation of the CBN Governor maintaining that his figures were conflicting with the document he submitted to the House. In defending his stance, Sanusi armed with the document, which he claimed was sourced from the Budget Office explained that, “The National Assembly’s overhead in this year’s budget is N136 billion, I don’t think anyone has disputed that. Where the dispute is, is that I have said that the Federal Government’s overhead is N536 billion. The issues is then, is that 25% or not? “This is a document of the Federal Government of Nigerian, prepared by the Budget Office of the Federation, endorsed by the Minister of Finance and approved by the Federal Executive Council and submitted to the National Assembly, by the President. If this number is correct, then N136 billion is 25% of the Federal Government Overhead.” The House argued that Sanusi contradicted himself based on the document he had submitted to them adding that his assertion did not tally with the provision of the 2010 Appropriation Act. Sanusi who arrived the venue of the hearing at about 12:30pm, was accompanied by five Deputy Governors and other top officials of the apex bank. Sanusi clarified that he never said that the National Assembly takes 25 percent of the 2010 budget. He said, “The National Assembly’s overhead in this year’s budget is N136 billion, I don’t think anyone has disputed that. Where the dispute is? It is that I have said that the Federal Government’s overhead is N536 billion. The issues is then, is that 25% or not. “I want to place before the House what is official. I refer you to a document written by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the National Assembly and to the Federal Executive Council. His Excellency wrote you this letter (raised up the letter). It is entitled: “the submission of the 2011/2010 Medium Term Expenditure framework. The document was approved by FEC on 8th September, 2010. “This is a document of the Federal Government of Nigerian, prepared by the Budget Office of the Federation, endorsed by the Minister of Finance and approved by the Federal Executive Council and submitted to the National Assembly, by the President. If this number is correct, then N136 billion is 25% of the Federal Government Overhead. Every page of that document is a page of the budget of the Federation,” Sanusi reiterated.
Insisting that he has deep respect for the National Assembly, he said his major area of concern is that the Nigerian government is spending too much on overhead instead of on capital and warned that the policy that encourages borrowing to finance overhead would lead to inflation and heavy debt burden in the next ten to twenty years.
While responding to questions from lawmakers, Sanusi spoke on a number of issues bordering the budget and state of the nation’s economy. He disclosed that Nigeria has moved from a deficit of 54.49 billion in 2008 to a deficit of 80.36 billion in 2009 and N1.79 trillion 2010.
He pointed out that the Overhead of the National Assembly was 21 percent in 2008, 26% in 2009 and 25% in 2010.
He also cited how domestic debt was overgrowing Gross Domestic Product (GDP), pointing out that most of the borrowing was to finance overhead.
“As overhead increases, we have pressure on inflation. As a country, we cannot keep spending and spending on overhead and recurrent. It is not good for this country, he said. He however made a passionate appeal that the governor of CBN should be given the freedom to comment freely on economic issues even if the comments are found to be unpleasant.
“I believe that it is extremely important for our country and for the governance of our country. That the Governor of the Central Bank must be able to express his opinion on the structure of government financing and structuring even when the truth is unpleasant adding that the statement should not be taken as an insult or an attack and should not lead to any kind of confrontation between the central bank and any arm of government.