By NBF News

Barely 22 days to the March 31 deadline of the 2010 budget, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday asked for virement of allocations to the Ministries of Power, Defence and Aviation from the House of Representatives. However, the request suffered a setback as the House could not decide on the letter.

Instead, Speaker Dimeji Bankole called on the Chairman of Appropriation Committee, Ayo Adeseun to respond.

Adeseun faulted the request, saying that the timing was wrong, and that there was no need for any virement, adding that it should have been included in the 2011 estimate.

According to him, there was a fresh request to add another N200 billion to the 2011 budget from the Budget Office, which, he noted, was part of the reasons for the late passage of the budget. He also informed the House that the committee's work on the 2011 budget was hampered by the refusal of the 31 revenue-generating agencies to submit their financial outlay for perusal.

The 31 agencies including the NNPC, CBN and the NPA were required by Section 21 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act to lay the estimates before the National Assembly for appropriation. Mr. Igo Aguma, member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Rivers State in his comment berated the management of the NNPC for frustrating the House by refusing to submit its revenue and expenditure profile to the House as resolved.

Instead of complying with the directives of the National Assembly, the chairman of Gas Committee accused NNPC of diverting attention to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

He noted that NNPC had provided over 30 different versions of the PIB through amendments and delayed further works on the Bill by proposing another adjustment which was yet to be forwarded.

Former Minority Leader in the House, Alhaji Ali Ndume urged the committee to concentrate on the passage of the 2011 Budget and forget about the request for virement.

Virement is a process of moving budgetary allocations from subheads where the application may not be of much importance to others that required critical attention.

The president in the letter read by the Speaker Dimeji Bankole noted that virement had become necessary 'in order to augment the shortfall in the completion of rehabilitation and repair of power plants, as well as identified shortfalls in some key parastatals in the aviation sector.'