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National Assembly Gets Revised 2016 Budget As Buhari Budgets N17bn For Second Niger Bridge

Source: thewillnigeria.com
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BEVERLY HILLS, January 19, (THEWILL) – As the National Assembly begins deliberation on the proposed budget for 2016 today, the emergence of two different versions of the 2016 Appropriation Bill which are showing different figures and adjustments in expenditure heads has been found to be the reason behind the withdrawal of the budget document from the Senate chambers.

This is as President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly leadership formally requesting the withdrawal of the budget he had presented to a joint session of the federal legislature on December 22 for adjustment.

The president's letter, which was addressed to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, followed controversy over an alleged secret extraction and doctoring of the original budget document. This had sparked a controversy which raged all through last week, as federal lawmakers resumed from recess and prepared to begin deliberation on the budget.

This led the upper chamber to set up a committee which established that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang allegedly substituted the original copy of the budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly on December 22, 2015 with a new version.

However, aside having a major cut of about N8.8bn in the Presidency's original figure with purchase of vehicles receiving the deepest cuts, the new version has provision of N17bn for capital expenditure allocated to Niger Bridge at Asaba-Onitsha in Delta and Anambra States. However, there was no such provision in the first version submitted to the National Assembly.

The expense heads that received big cuts include Fixed Asset Purchase reduced by N3.374bn to N1.196bn from N4.57bn while purchase of vehicles was slashed by N3.29bn to N599m from N3.889bn.

The State House headquarters, recurrent costs, overhead, miscellaneous, honorarium/sitting allowance each had a reduction of N100m.

Expenditures for construction and provision of general fixed asset, which in the first version seemed to have had double entry at N764.67m each were scrapped in the second budget.

A review of the fresh copy of the budget uploaded to the website of the Budget Office of the Federation on Friday showed a massive reduction of allocation for the purchase of exotic cars for the Presidency by N17bn. This came to about 83.5 per cent cut in the total allocation for the vehicles.

A total of N7.52bn was provided previously for the purchase of various exotic vehicles, including BMW saloon cars, in addition to another N566m for the procurement of vehicles, including 16-seater Toyota Hiace coaster buses for the State House.

Despite the adjustments to the allocations to the various departments and units, the total appropriation of N39.13bn for the Presidency remained unchanged in both the previous and current budget versions.

Details of the different adjustments showed that State House headquarters, which got total allocation of N11.91bn in the original budget has now been cut by N100m, same as allocations for its recurrent costs, overheads, honorarium and sitting allowance as well as miscellaneous expenses.

Equally, the purchase of fixed assets, which received N4.57bn previously, has drastically been reduced to about N1.2bn, while preservation of the environment and wild life conservation, which got a total of N978.3m, has now been reduced to N347.4m.

The Office of the Chief of Staff to the President had its initial allocation of N2.3m raised to N22.3m, while allocation to the office of the Chief Security Adviser to the President has also been raised from N3.18m to N28.18m.

Details of the provision for the two offices include allocation of N25m each for overhead costs, recurrent and miscellaneous expenditures. Another N25m has been budgeted for honorarium and sitting allowance for the office of the Chief of Staff.

The State House Medical Centre has been allocated N100m for total overheads and recurrent costs.

The State House, Lagos Liaison Office, which had its allocation increased from N126.7m to N151.7m, would get in addition N25m each for recurrent, overhead and miscellaneous costs.

About N2.3bn provided earlier for the construction and general provision of fixed assets as well as recreational facilities for the State House has now been removed, while rehabilitation and repairs of fixed assets previously allocated N4.48bn was increased to N13.2bn.

Rehabilitation/repairs of residential buildings and electricity facilities previously allocated N388m and N1.7bn respectively have now been raised to N642.6m and N1.8bn respectively.

Another provision of N3.9bn has been made for the rehabilitation of office building, while renovation of eight blocks of 16 two-bedroom flats at State House Security quarter, Asokoro, would take about N254.6m.

About N3.9bn has been set aside for the annual routine maintenance of Villa facilities by Julius Berger, in addition to N764.7m provided for the construction/provision of recreational facilities.