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25% OF BUDGET: SANUSI HAS APOLOGISED TO N'ASSEMBLY - MAKARFI

By NBF News
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Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Ahmed Makarfi has said that Nigerians did not understand the Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, when he (Sanusi) said members of the National Assembly alone were spending 25 per cent of the country's annual budget.

Makarfi, who spoke to journalists in Kaduna at an interactive forum disclosed that he received a letter from Sanusi, in which the CBN boss allegedly apologised to the National Assembly over the controversial 25 per cent and blamed Nigerians for misquoting him.

He added the letter also explained that members of the National Assembly were only spending 25 per cent of the overhead cost and not 25 per cent of the nation's annual total budget.

The CBN governor had some time late last year stirred the hornet's nest when he told Nigerians that members of the National Assembly were spending a total of 25 per cent out of the nation's annual total budget. This had since generated debate across the country.

'CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, did not say that the National Assembly was consuming 25 per cent of the nation's annual budget.

'As a matter of fact, two or three days after his appearance before our joint committee he wrote me a letter officially to voice in that he didn't say 25 per cent of the nation's annual budget, he didn't say 25 per cent of the nation's total revenue, he didn't say the nation's total recurrent expenditure, but 25 per cent of overhead.

'Overhead figure treated by Sanusi, when you take it as percentage of the budget itself, will come to about eight per cent of the total budget, the entire nation's  overhead will come to about eight per cent of the nation's budget.

So what he was saying was that the National Assembly was consuming 25 per cent of the eight per cent of the nation's budget in effect, so 95 per cent is there. It is out of the eight per cent; who is paying what out of the eight per cent, that is where his statement came from. And of course, for a lot of people for different reasons will give different headlines, different conclusions, different analysis to over magnify what he said.

'Be that as it may, which is true, and people are right to do so, have raised concern on expenditure of the National Assembly even whatever percentage it may be. This is not limited to Nigeria's National Assembly. Almost all democracies this debate is going on, in Europe, in Africa, this debate is going on.

'As a result of this, the Senate set up a committee which they asked me to chair to find out similar parliaments and what we have discovered so far, first of all, the parliaments are not even willing to give us information about their expenses since it is parliament to parliament, so you can see, this is something generally used to find out about parliaments.

'But we will go comprehensively for some developed democracies and there is a different between take home pay and also running cost. National Assembly does not fix its take home pay like every public officer; the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) does that. The National Assembly cannot increase one kobo on top of it.

' The problem is also not to do with National Assembly. When you study the running cost of government, that of the National Assembly is a small fraction, so we are serious about bringing down the cost of running government. We have to look at all arms of government and do something to bring down the cost of running government, all the agencies and corporate bodies. And that exercise is going on.

'The Senate president and the speaker of the House had repeatedly made clear that the National Assembly is willing to lead the way in bringing down the cost of running government because we need to tell ourselves the home truth; when something is not sustainable, we say it is not sustainable and that is the position, that is what is going on.

'So I have to correct the statement Sanusi made, he didn't say what exactly you said, and he himself repeated it, but whatever it may be, how much does it cost to run government, and that government is not National Assembly alone, government is all arms, and we are committed to bringing down the cost of running government.'      END