Worried by the seeming irreconcilable figures in this year’s budget proposal by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun, has said that the budget’s total of N8.7 trillion does not show what Nigeria truly is.
According to him, ‘’we are not what we think we are as a nation. We can deduct it from the figure the Executive arm of government has always sent to us. We think we are a rich country but from the figures, we are very poor.
‘’The 2019 budget says the proposal is N8.7 trillion of which if we do a direct conversion that is just merely 28.5 billion dollars. What does that mean? It means the totality of the Nigerian budget for 2019 is just 29 billion dollars. Apple alone declares a profit of almost 100 billion dollars after tax.’’
He spoke as the ministries of Budget and Planning, Education and Finance as well as the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) were under scrutiny as the spectre of discrepancies and duplication of items in budgets again came up as the House began debate on the 2019 Appropriation Bill.
Adamu Chika (APC-Niger) drew attention of his colleagues to the what he described as ‘’irreconcilable figures’’ while speaking during plenary, noting that there are also contradictions in the figures noticed in budgets of some ministries.
His observations prompted the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, to call on the budget and planning as well as finance ministries to clarify the discrepancies.
According to Dogara, ‘’I am by this announcement drawing the attention of the Ministry of Budget and Planning and Finance to the irreconcilable differences in the figures allotted in the budget and, if we must continue the debate on the budget, they must give us reconciled figures.’’
Screening the budget, Chika noted, ‘’In the Ministry of Budget and Planning, in the part C which is the recurrent expenditure is N9.3 billion, however, when you go to the summary by MDAs, which is number 28: 0.2.3.8 personnel in the ministry of budget and planning has now become N66.21 billion.
‘’Then overhead also changed there; it has now N832.2 billion. Then the total, which is personnel and overhead in that aspect has now become N1.49 trillion. The capital also has changed to about N655.9 billion, now giving us a total allocation of the Ministry of Budget and Planning, instead of N9.3 billion has now become N2.15 trillion.’’
Chika who represents Shiroro/Rafi/Munya Federal Constituency of Niger, said in the education ministry, also in part C, it was discovered that the budget is N462.2 billion, ‘’but in the summary of the budget by the MDAs, number 41: 0.5.1.8 personnel costs now have changed to about N539.6 billion and overhead, there is N33.5 billion now making it that the total recurrent expenditure when you go by the summary by the MDAs has changed to N539 billion. I don’t know why that figure was added at that level.’’
In the finance ministry, the recurrent expenditure in part C is N10.8 billion. ‘’However, there is also an error when you go to the summary, which is number 21: 2.2.0. personnel is N7.4billion, which is okay. But when you go to the overhead, it now becomes N2.26 trillion and therefore that has also changed. Now the total which is now personnel and the overhead is now N2.27 trillion. That has also changed’’, the legislator said.
Responding, Dogara said relevant committees should liaise with the budget office to correct the errors, adding, ‘’even though it is apparent on the surface of the budget that there were so many irreconcilable differences in the figures allotted, basically we are discussing the general principles of the budget by virtue of the provisions of our rules at this time.’’