The Senate Tuesday unanimously adopted a corrected version of Budget 2016 sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.
It also resolved to begin work on the budget on Wednesday even as the Upper Legislative Chamber declared that it had taken Buhari’s corrected version as the substantive budget proposal.
The Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, read President Buhari’s official communication to Senators.
Buhari lamented that errors in the Budget Document he Presented last December were not corrected before the presentation to the joint session of the National Assembly.
The letter tagged “2016 Budget Proposals” admitted the confusion that had been generated by the efforts to ensure that there were no errors in the budget document.
The letter also attracted some criticisms from some Senators because of the error in dates.
Buhari, in the first line of the letter wrote 2016 when in actual fact he meant 2015.
The President’s letter reads: “It would be recalled that on Tuesday 22nd December, 2016, I presented my 2016 budget proposal to the joint sitting of the National Assembly. I submitted a draft bill accompanied by schedule of details. At the time of submission we indicated that because the details had just been produced and we would have had to check to ensure that there are no errors in the detail breakdown contained in the schedule. That has since been completed and I understand that the corrections have been submitted.
The National Assembly will therefore have the details as submitted on the 22nd and a copy containing the corrections submitted last week. It appears that this had led to some confusion. In this regard, please find attached a corrected version. This is the version that the National Assembly should work with as my 2016 budget estimates. The draft bill remains the same and there are no changes in any of the figures”
Shortly after reading the letter, Saraki asked the Senate Leader, Muhammed Ali Ndume, to move a motion for the adoption of the document as the authentic budget proposal.
Saraki explained that the adoption of the President’s latest communication was to enable the Senate have it on record that the authentic document that would serve as the 2016 budget was the one attached to yesterday’s letter.
Ndume had on Monday hinted that the budget was subjected to integrity checks but failed to pass.
Providing further details on how the second budget document contradicted the original one,
Ndume said that the few copies of the budget proposal document earlier submitted to the Senate were thoroughly compared with the copies that were later brought by the Presidency and it was discovered that there were differences.
He explained that some projects which were not included in the budget document before were smuggled in to cater for certain hidden interests.
“What we tried to do was to make a comparative analysis. The difference is not in the sub-total or sectorial allocation. The Senate did integrity check and found out that in some cases certain amount of money was allocated to do two projrcts and because of integrity check, they found out that more projects were included in what that amount was voted for initially.
But what I can tell you now is that the budget that was submitted originally, there were certain integrity check on it that made some changes in the quantity of projects but not in the total amount of money voted.”
“Along the way, there are two documents and they are before the Senate. We start considering the first document and for some reasons best known to us, we said let’s leave it and take the other one, we have the right to do that. That is why we are telling you now that we are taking the first one, we left the second one because we think it’s not good for Nigeria”