Reviewed 2020 budget: Reps warn MDAs on alterations

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations has warned Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) against self-serving adjustment of their respective allocations, following the recent downward review of the 2020 budget.

Issuing the warning via a statement on Friday, the chairman of the committee on appropriations, Muktar Betera, said the caution was necessary as the panel had gotten information that MDAs were already making adjustments to their budgets in a manner to suit their own needs, which action they lacked the powers to do, unless in agreement with the National Assembly.

The statement read in part, “There were reports that following the downward review of the budget from N10.59 trillion to N10.52 trillion due to the Covid-19 crisis and the dwindling oil prices, some MDAs were already adjusting the budget proposal to suit their needs. Such acts will not be condoned by the National Assembly as any MDA or official found to be engaged in such illegal practices will be made to face the music.

“I want to warn that no other arm or department of government has any power over budget except the legislature, which is the National Assembly. It is only the National Assembly that can review the budget and we have begun the process.

“I would like to refresh the memory of those erring MDAs or officers of the Executive that sections 80- 84 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) confers appropriation powers on the parliament as well as its responsibilities over the national purse. So, nobody should engage any unlawful act concerning the budget.”

According to the lawmaker said, “Section 80 (4) specifically provided that ‘no money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly,” therefore, we shall not shirk in our responsibilities and we will also not hesitate to wield the big stick on whoever goes beyond his brief to tamper with the budget.”

He said because of the importance the National Assembly attached to the budget, members of the relevant committees “will continue work on it during the two-week Sallah break,” stressing that “the break will not in any way affect our consideration of the budget because it is critical to the survival of our nation at this trying period.”

“We hope to finish work on the budget in record time so that its implementation will still remain within the January – December budget cycle.”

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