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Budget padding: NASS right, didn’t break law for increasing 2024 budget – Minister of Budget and Economic Planning

 

The Minister of Budget and
Economic Planning, Sen. Atiku Bagudu, has stated that the National Assembly did
not violate any laws with the new insertions in the 2024 budget.

 

During a press briefing in Abuja
on Thursday, Bagudu stated that since 1999, it has been customary for the
National Assembly to include new line items in the appropriation bill to fund
specific projects in their constituencies.

 

He added that this practice often
results in an increase in the approved budget from what was initially presented
by the president.

 

Recall that the Senate has been
enmeshed in a padding scandal following allegations by now-suspended Bauchi Central
lawmaker Abdul Ningi that the sum of N3.7 trillion in the budget was not tied
to any project.

 

Ningi was reported to have made
the claim during a BBC Hausa Service interview last weekend.

 

Following the allegations
levelled against the red chamber, the Senate has suspended Ningi, asking him
not to participate in all the activities of the 10th Senate.

 

He said, “There has been a long
debate, and a former president went up to the Supreme Court to define the
appropriation power of the executive and the National Assembly. Later, there
was an out-of-court settlement. Until now, this issue has not been resolved.

 

“So, what is the power of the
National Assembly as regards the budget? There is no Supreme Court judgement,
and the choice of our democracy is that the National Assembly has the last
word. Even when they pass an appropriation, that assent is refused, and after
30 days, it becomes law.

 

“Do they have the right to
increase a budget line? I will say yes.”

 

He also mentioned that there is a
misunderstanding regarding why budgets for agencies classified as statutory
transfers do not have their budget line items disclosed.

 

His words: “These are transfers
for agencies that are created by the constitution or legislation. So, they have
the right to draw up their own budget. They can be supervised by a committee,
but it is not the federal government that appropriates for them; the most
popular ones are the NJC, FCT, Tertiary Education Trust Fund, NEDC, NDDC, and others,”
he said.

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