Don’t tamper with 2020 budget, Reps warn MDAs

YEMIE FASH

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Don’t tamper with 2020 budget, Reps warn MDAs

The House of Representatives has asked ministries, departments and agencies under the Federal Government to desist from tampering with the 2020 Appropriation Act, following the submission of revised budget proposal by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to the National Assembly.

Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Mr Muktar Betara, issued the warning in a statement in Abuja on Friday.

Betara warned that the parliament would not condone such acts by the MDAs.

The statement read in part, “There were reports that following the downward review of the budget from N10.59tn to N10.52tn 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 have 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.”

The lawmaker also stated that both the 1999 Constitution and Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 set no limitations on the National Assembly’s power to amend the appropriations bill.

“Section 80(4) specifically provided that ‘no money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.’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.”

Betara noted that due to the importance the National Assembly attaches to the budget, members of the relevant committees would continue work on it during the two-week Sallah break.

He said, “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.”

The lawmaker said the House Committee on Appropriations was committed to working with other relevant committees, the Senate and executive arm of government to have a workable budget.

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