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2010 BUDGET TO BE SIGNED TODAY

By NBF NEWS
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The budget signing ceremony will hold at 10am in the Presidential Villa.

Today's budget signing ceremony is the culmination of negotiations between the Executive and the Legislature over some identified discrepancies in the budget passed by the National Assembly.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ima Niboro, disclosed this on Wednesday evening.

Before Niboro's announcement, the Federal Executive Council rose from its meeting on Wednesday with an assurance that the 2010 Appropriation Bill would be signed into law before the end of the week.

The signing of the budget had been stalled due to disagreements between the Executive and Legislature over some grey areas discovered in the copy that was passed by the National Assembly.

Both organs of government have discussed ways to resolve the disagreements, with Acting President Goodluck Jonathan and principal officers of the National Assembly engaging in marathon talks on Tuesday night.

Addressing journalists after the FEC met in the Council Chambers of the State House on Wednesday, the Minister of State for Information and Communications, Mr. Labaran Maku, said the Acting President assured the ministers that serious progress had been made in the ongoing talks, and as a result, the budget would be signed during the week.

He described the 'grey areas' stalling the signing of the budget as 'discrepancies,' which the executive was not comfortable with.

Asked to state the discrepancies in the version of the budget approved by the National Assembly, Maku said they were not discussed at the FEC meeting.

He said, 'The figures were not tabled for discussion in Council; they did not come up for discussion, but the Acting President informed us that a lot of progress had been made in discussions with the National Assembly.

'It is too early to make conclusions on what the budget will look like; what is finally approved will be made known to Nigerians.

'I am sure that in the end, what comes up will be for the good of Nigerians.'

The minister further disclosed that the Executive was determined to accelerate the resolution of the disagreement with the lawmakers over the identified grey areas in the budget.

This, he explained, was because of concerns that the impasse could derail the implementation of the budget.

In recent years, federal budgets have suffered poor implementation, and the late passage and signing of the budgets has been identified as one of the factors responsible for unsavoury development.

Maku said, 'The Acting President and the Executive Council of the Federation are even more concerned, because every day that we lose will even put a lot of pressure on budget implementation.

'He is concerned, because in the last few years, there has been poor implementation (of budgets).

Meanwhile, as Nigerians await the signing of the budget, the Acting President has directed ministers and other heads of ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government to make proper preparations that will enable them to effectively implement the budget.

Maku said that Jonathan informed the ministers that the budget must be made operational.

'The MDAs have been told to gear up for implementation to ensure that this year's budget is made operational. The emphasis is on service delivery; the Acting President has told us to hit the ground running,' he said.

At the inauguration of the cabinet on April 6, 2010, the Acting President had directed the ministers to prepare work plans within two weeks.

Jonathan, on the occasion, also informed the ministers that the 2010 budget should form the blueprint for their programmes and directed that they should not resort to unnecessary search for ideas.