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Senate Rejects 'Strange' Budget For 52 Parastatals

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA, May 22, (THEWILL) â€' The Senate on Thursday rebuffed moves to goad it into considering what it described as a strange 2014 budgetary proposal for 52 parastatals.

The proposal which was roundly rejected was presented by Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang, who reintroduced 2014 Budget Proposal of Federal Government Parastatals for consideration.

The budget proposals of the 52 parastatals created serious confusion among the senators, many of whom wondered why the document was coming seven weeks after the National Assembly has passed the entire 2014 budget profiles into law.

The document contained 2014 Budget estimates for 52 Federal agencies like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Corporate Affairs Commission etc.

Trouble started immediately it was presented to the senate for deliberation by the Deputy Leader of the Senate, Abdul Ningi, as listed on the Order Paper.

Ningi had, in his presentation , said: 'That the Senate do consider the request of Mr. President, Commander - in - Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 2014 Budget proposal for the following Federal Government Parastatals .'

However, senators, one after another, expressed confusion and wondered where the document or correspondence is coming from seven weeks after the final consideration of the N4.6trillion 2014 budget.

Senator Smart Adeyemi (PDP Kogi West) took the first shot when he described the request as contained in the document as nothing but returning the already passed budget to the Senate for reconsideration through the back door.

'To me, this request as purportedly made by the President and presented here by the Deputy Senate Leader is strange and very strange indeed because this is the first time I will be witnessing such a thing.

'We have already passed the 2014 budget several weeks ago and now presenting to us another request to consider budget estimates of some federal agencies believed to have been captured in the original budget total budget estimates passed.

'This to me , Mr. President Sir, is unacceptable because what the generality of Nigerians are waiting for now, is for Mr. President to sign the already passed 2014 Budget into law and not reconsideration of any budget estimates', he said.

Also kicking against the strange request, James Manager (PDP Delta South), said ' Mr. President, this is strange. If you remember, these agencies budget estimates have already been treated and considered during the last budget Defence session which eventually paved way for the passing of the N4.6trillion 2014 budget profile by both chambers of the National Assembly in the first week of April.

'Now, what can now be said to warrant this request before us when the budget passed has not been assented to? In a nutshell, what Nigerians are expecting as far as the 2014 budget is concerned , is for Mr. President to sign the one already forwarded to him and not the Senate , carrying out any reconsideration on any aspect of the budget.'

Senators angered over the document got stronger with Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe's submission that the Senate by its standing rule (53)(6) cannot revisit an already concluded issue such as the 2014 budget, which has already been considered and passed several weeks ago.

The anger of the Senate over the document however took a different dimension when Senator Ayogu Eze (PDP Enugu North ) , asked the Senate to take up Ita Enang on where the document emanated from, six months after the 2014 budget was presented.

He argued that such a document supposed to have been attached to the entire budget profile for proper scrutiny and consideration of the Senate and not coming now through the back door

'The Senate should take a very serious view of this matter of a strange document on a budget already passed. Pointedly, the Senate should find out from its Chairman, Rules and Business Committee ( Ita Enang) where he got the document from and he should be told that his move is already belated,'he said.

Although Ita Enang, in his response to the posers raised by Ayogu Eze and some other Senators on where he got the document from, said the document came along with the 2014 budget profile as submitted by the Budget office in November last year but the Senators still insisted that the document should be completely discarded.

However, the Senate President David Mark, in his ruling, directed Ita Enang to withdraw the document for sieving of agencies and parastatals whose budget estimates had already been treated from those yet to be treated.