Wednesday, 26 June 2013

2013 budget : Reps Reject Jonathan's Amendment Bill

The House of Representatives in Abuja on Wednesday rejected President Goodluck Jonathan's proposal for amendment to the 2013 Appropriation Act.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that on March 14, Jonathan sent a request for amendment to the N4.9 trillion 2013 Appropriation Act to the National Assembly for consideration.

This was sequel to a report by Rep. Albert Sam-Tsokwa ( PDP-Taraba)-led Committee which was unanimously adopted.

According to Sam-Tsokwa, the amendment sought by the presidency is ambiguous and not precise.

``The document, the Appropriation Act 2013 amendment bill which Mr President forwarded to the house has nothing to show that it is a document.

``Apart from the long title of the bill, it has nothing again to show that it is a document seeking to amend or repeal and re-enact the 2013 appropriation act," he said.

He said that the amendment also did not specifically spell out sections it sought to amend.

``The purported amendment bill, a five clause bill, is completely and totally silent on what and which sections of the 2013 -appropriation act it seeks to amend and or repeal.

``Clearly, what the amendment bill 2013 seeks to appropriate is more than what is appropriated for the 2013 fiscal year in the 2013 appropriation act.

He said that the amendment was more of the executive seeking additional funds which could not be achieved through an amendment bill.

``Obviously, this cannot be achieved through an amendment bill. The answer lies in a Supplementary Appropriation under Section 81(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

``Mr President, being the only authority constitutionally endowed and empowered to initiate money bill, may wish to resubmit a proper bill as Section 81 clearly ties the hands of the Parliament," he said.

The spokesman of the house, Rep. Zakari Mohammed ( PDP-Kwara), said the scope of the amendment made it seem that the National Assembly had not passed the budget in the first place.

According to him, amendment means there is a law on ground that has defects, but with the level of the amendments requested, it is as if a new budget is to be passed.

``But do not forget that a budget has been signed and if someone is saying that because an amendment has not been passed he won’t implement the budget, then there is a problem somewhere," Zakari said.

It would be recalled that on June 4, Rep. Yakubu Dogara (PDP-Taraba), raised a point of order faulting the request for amendment of the 2013 budget by the presidency. (NAN)

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