House Shelves Debate on 2013 Budget Amendment Bill

 The House of Representatives  Thursday shelved its proposed debate on the general principles of the 2013 Appropriation Act Amendment Bill.

The bill, which seeks to authorise the issue of the sum of N4.987 trillion from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, was scheduled among the items for consideration yesterday but  was put on hold due to the inability of the executive to provide  the full  details of the money bill.

Indications that the bill was not going to be considered yesterday emerged when the Speaker of the House, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, observed that the bill was sent to the House without its details.
The budget amendment bill, Tambuwal said, cannot be considered unless its details were made available to the lawmakers.

He said the House had been expecting the executive to send the required details and called on the Committee on Appropriation to provide an update and  ascertain the level of preparedness on the bill.
Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. John Enoh, said the executive was yet to provide enough  copies  of the budget.

Enoh  explained that the committee had been in touch with the Budget Office of the Federation which had made some volumes of the budget available to the parliament.
According to him, more copies of the budget were being expected by next Monday to enable the committee distribute them to all members in preparation for the debate.

The National Assembly had in December last year passed the 2013 Appropriation Act which President Goodluck signed into law in January after the two arms of government agreed that the budget will be followed by an amendment to address some flaws identified in the budget. Among the flaws was the clause which sought to stifle the operations of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) through zero budgetary allocation.

In a letter returning the budget for amendment, Jonathan said among other things that: “As noted  in our various consultative meetings with the leadership and various committees of the National Assembly following the passage of the budget, it became imperative that certain provisions, including cuts to personnel cost across the service and provisions for some capital  projects be changed through an amendment budget.”

Jonathan faulted this caveat placed on SEC's  budget  and  requested the parliament to  review it.
He stressed  that such a clause  ought not to have been included in the budget in the first place  because of its grave implications to the operations of SEC and the Nigeria Capital Market.

“Considering the fact that the budget of the SEC does not form part of the core 2013 Federal Budget as presented to the National Assembly, I believe that this clause ought not to have been inserted in the 2013 Appropriation Act in the first place. Secondly, the import of the clause is tantamount to shutting down the business of the commission with a potential negative impact on the capital market,” Jonathan said.

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