Why Jonathan hasn’t signed 2012 Budget – Okonjo-Iweala
Nigeria — The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, yesterday, explained why President Goodluck Jonathan has not signed the 2012 Appropriation Bill, saying he was still studying details of the changes made in the budget by the National Assembly.
She spoke to State House correspondents at the Aso Villa in Abuja, after a meeting of National Economic Management Team.
According to her, members of President Jonathan’s cabinet will meet with the leadership of the National Assembly tomorrow to resolve areas of conflict.
Her words: “What we are doing now is that the National Assembly just gave us the budget a few days ago and of course when they pass the budget, we have to look at the details because it is not always the same as the budget Mr. President passed to the House.
“So, we are doing that work, we are looking at the details. After looking at the details, we will have a meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly on Thursday to make sure that we reconcile and understand all the changes that may have been made and after that, we will be ready to move on to the next step. That is where we are, doing the normal work.”
The minister revealed that the crude oil benchmark which the legislators raised from $70 to $72 and detailed allocations to Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDA would be discussed.
She said: “We are still ending up with fiscal deficit that is reasonable and under three per cent and reduced debt, that is okay. But now, the details, most of the specific Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, and how the budget may have changed, that is the step we are looking at now and that takes a little bit of time but we must do it because we want to make sure we have an implementable budget.”
NASS to ensure full implementation of 2012 budget
Meanwhile, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, has reiterated the readiness of the National Assembly to ensure that the 2012 budget is strictly implemented by the executive when it is signed into law.
Ihedioha, who stated this at the on-going conference of the Inter Parliamentary Union Conference in Kampala, Uganda noted that this was part of measures being adopted to ensure that the aspiration of the people were met.
According to him, the measure has become necessary to ensure that the essence of the timely passage of the budget is met.
He noted that the National Assembly made concessions and met the executive arm of government half way to ensure a smooth passage of the 2012 budget in the overall interest of the nation, adding that part of the measures being put in place included streamlining and strengthening of the oversight function of the legislature to make implementing departments and agencies more accountable, transparent and adherent to provisions of the appropriation law.
The deputy speaker also said in line with the theme of the ongoing IPU assembly which is ‘Parliament and the people: Bridging the gap,’ the National Assembly was increasing and strengthening its reach-out programmes and mechanisms to give Nigerians better understanding and greater sense of belonging in the work of the legislature.
He said Some of these measures include convening of townhall meetings which he said, will begin soon across different zones of the country in line with the legislative agenda of the House of Representatives as unveiled by Speakerof the House, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal in the beginning of the seventh assembly. He advised members of the public to offer constructive criticisms to their lawmakers and take full advantage of opportunities provided to interface with the public including making appropriate responses to calls for memoranda and submitting petitions on issues of personal and communal concerns to the parliament as the need arises.
He assured that the National Assembly will continue to bridge the gap between the law-making institution and the Nigerian citizenry while calling for support and patience of the populace in the discharge of legislative functions