President Goodluck Jonathan has forwarded the 2013 Appropriation Act amendment proposal to the National Assembly for approval and asked it to review its position on zero allocation to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Jonathan also forwarded the 2013 Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) budget amendment proposal for consideration and approval of the National Assembly.
In a letter entitled ‘Submission of the 2013 amendment budget proposal and the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) proposal’ read on the floor of the Senate by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, President Jonathan appreciated giving accelerated hearing tothe 2013 budget.
The president said in the two-page letter, “However, as noted in our various consultative meetings with the leadership and various committees of the National Assembly following the passage of the budget, it became imperative that certain provisions including cuts to personnel cost across the service and provisions for some capital projects be changed through an amendment budget. Distinguished Senate President, the overriding objective remains to help improve the lives of Nigerians.
“In this respect, I hereby forward a copy each of the 2013 Amendment Budget Proposal and the 2013 Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) Amendment Budget Proposal. It is my hope that the distinguished members of the Senate will consider and approve these revised proposals in your usual expeditious manner.
“Furthermore, the 2013 Appropriation Act includes clauses which may be injurious to the spirit of separation of powers and which could hamper the work of the executive arm of government. I, therefore, request that these should be reviewed.
“The relevant clauses are: Clause 6(i) states that ‘the accountant general of the federation shall forward to the National Assembly full details of funds released to the government agencies immediately such funds are released’; while Clause 9 states that: ‘All accounting officers of ministries, parastatals and departments of government who control heads of expenditures shall upon the coming into effect of this Act furnish the National Assembly on quarterly basis with detailed information on the internally generated revenue of the agency in any form whatsoever’. Both clauses run counter to the established chain of reporting, the letter noted.
Clause 7 states that “the minister of finance shall ensure that funds appropriated under this Act are released to the appropriate agencies and/or organs of government as and when due, provided that no funds for any quarter of the fiscal year shall be deferred without prior waiver from the National Assembly’. This requires the minister of finance to seek a waiver from the National Assembly each time the ministry of finance cannot make full funds releases to MDAs when due. As you are aware, the nation experiences a shortfall in revenue once in a while and if the minister is to seek a waiver on each occasion, the practice would be down budget implementation, as this would involve the minister writing a formal letter to the National Assembly, presented in plenary and sent to the relevant committees for discussion. Those would create delays and constraints on the budget implementation.
TUNJI OLAWUNI &
TEDDY NWANUNOBI, Abuja