The National Assembly has disclosed why it increased its allocation in the 2018 appropriation bill by N14.5 billion, days after President Muhammadu Buhari grudgingly signed the bill into law.
After the signing of the N9.120 trillion budget at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, President Buhari expressed his displeasure over some arbitrary changes made by the legislature who increased their original N125 billion allocation to N139.5 billion allegedly without any discussion with the executive.
In a joint statement issued by the upper and lower legislative chamber of the national assembly on Friday, June 22, lawmakers said the increased allocation was necessitated by the drastic inflation of the last four years.
According to the statement, the increase was also necessitated by the need to rehabilitate deteriorating facilities, as well as to fund the hundreds of millions of naira it takes to procure diesel to constantly power the entire national assembly complex.
The statement also noted that the increased funding will help the national assembly to deal with increased national challenges that require frequent public hearings held on almost a daily basis at high costs as well as fund “intense oversight”.
The statement read, “It should be noted that the budget of the National Assembly as at 2014 was N150 billion, which is still N10.5 billion more than our current figure despite increased national challenges that requires: frequent public hearings held on almost a daily basis at high costs; and intense oversight, which has become more thorough and incisive in order to check the Executive.
“The N139.5billion budget of the National Assembly represents less than 1.5 percent of the entire N9 trillion budget. Does it not make sense to use 1.5 percent to protect the other 98.5 percent?
“The public should note that this increase in the legislature’s budget was also necessitated by the drastic inflation of the last four years; the need to rehabilitate the National Assembly’s deteriorating facilities, like the elevators which shutdown almost weekly; spending hundreds of millions to procure diesel to constantly power the entire complex; and the need to immediately upgrade the security facilities of the complex.
“It is important to point out at this juncture that the collapse of the CCTV system facilitated the mace theft in April.”
Why we inflated 2018 budget – NASS
The national assembly’s Friday statement also disclosed that the increase of its allocation is not isolated as all three arms of government benefited from it as was mutually agreed with the Ministry of Budget and Planning.
They noted that they increased allocations of the executive’s proposal for the National Judicial Council (N10 billion increase), Niger Delta Development Commission (N10.6 billion increase) and the National Human Rights Commission (N1.5 billion increase).
The statement further disclosed that the increments were spurred by the increase in the oil price benchmark from the projected $45 to the actual price of $51 which generated additional N523.65 billion revenue for the federal government.
The statement read, “In the case of statutory transfers where the increase in the National Assembly’s budget was isolated, it is important to note that the increase in the oil price benchmark from the projected $45 to the actual price of $51 generated additional N523.65 billion for the Federal Government.
“Thus, based on agreement between the National Assembly and the Executive as represented by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, the additional revenues were allocated among the three arms of government as follows:
“The Executive’s proposal for the National Judicial Council was N100billion, however, the National Assembly appropriated N110 billion which represents N10 billion increase;
“The Executive’s proposal for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was N71,195,023,529, however the National Assembly appropriated N81,882,555,891 – which represents a N10,687,532,363 increase;
“An additional N33,981,437,188 was also appropriated for the outstanding liabilities to the NDDC by the Federal Government to enable the commission settle some of its contractors that were owed over N1 trillion ;
“The National Assembly received an additional N14.5billion in funding;
“In order to ensure that they are able to meet their mandate, the National Assembly increased the Public Complaint’s Commission’s budget from the N4,200,000,000 proposed by the President to N7,480,000,000 – which represents a N3,280,000,000 increase; and
“Lastly, the National Human Rights Commission’s budget was increased from N1.5billion to N3,013,745,000, which represents a N1,513,745,000 increase.
“It is therefore very clear that the three arms of government benefited from the increase which was mutually agreed on with the Ministry of Budget and Planning. In fact, we have correspondences addressed to the leadership of the National Assembly from Ministry of Budget making requests on how to spread the increment arising from the Benchmark differentials.”
In response to the president’s other complaint about tinkering with government projects, the national assembly said it made changes to the budget to spread projects across all geopolitical zones to ensure socio-economic justice, equity, fairness, and national loyalty.
Buhari has already announced that he’ll send “a supplementary and/or amendment budget” to the national assembly to rectify the critical issues he raised.