Budget 2010: Protests Trail Fresh Adjustments


From Kunle Akogun and Onwuka Nzeshi in Abuja, 07.09.2010 


President Goodluck Jonathan’s  submission  of a revised  revenue framework  and request  for a slight amendment  to the 2010 Appropriation Amendment Bill  and the 2010 Supplem-entary Budget sparked off a protest yesterday at the House of Representatives  as some lawmakers  raised objections  to the alterations  to the money bills.


The objections were first raised by the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Ayoade Adeseun who said the incessant requests for  adjustments on  the  budget was  delaying the National Assembly from concluding work on the Appropriation Act.Adeseun who expressed frustration at  the fresh  proposal to adjust the budget  said it was unfortunate that just when  the Joint Committee on Appropriation and Finance was  concluding work on the initial proposals for adjustments, the Executive  sent yet another proposal to  adjust  the amendments.


I have a problem when several amendments are brought at different times and sometimes through the backdoor. The delays in the process is and always creates a situation where the executive would say that the budget is being delayed by the National Assembly.  My concern is that this is July; the economy is dying and we are here amending the amendments we have made on the budget.   Well, if the Speaker rules that we go ahead we have no option but certainly this is not the way to run an economy,” Adeseun said.


This protest was further re-inforced by the Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Hon. John Enoh, who argued that the expected gains of the Amnesty granted militants in the Niger Delta region appears not to have reflected on the economy  in terms of improved oil production  and rising revenue. Enoh said it was curious that one year  after the armed youths laid down their arms  and  the multinational oil firms returned to a regime of unhindered oil production, the dismal  statistics flowing from  the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) before the Federal government launched the Amnesty Programme appears to have remained the same.


“In 2009, before the amnesty programme, we asked questions about how we were doing in daily oil production and one year later, we are still being given the same excuses. When these things keep coming like this, they keep delaying the budgeting  process,” Enoh said. Although the 2010 Appropr-iation Bill  sent to the National Assembly  by the late President, Umar Musa Yar’Adua was adjusted  a record six times before it was passed by the parliament, President Jonathan expressed reservations with the projections in the budget  even before he signed it into  law. But this  would be the third time that Jonathan  would be seeking amendment to the budget as passed by the National Assembly.


The President had in late May, 2010 written the National Assembly to review the 2010 Appropriation Act as passed, citing crashing crude oil prices from over $80 to about $70  and resultant revenue shortfalls  as reasons for his action.  About the same time, the Executive proposed a Supplementary Budget which some legislators also described as unnecessary.In his latest request for adjustment, Jonathan said recent information coming  from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC] indicate that oil production for the 2010 fiscal year was likely to average at about 2.2 million barrel per day, as opposed to  the 2.25 million barrel per day projection  in the initial Revenue Framework presented  to the National Assembly.


“Accordingly, I seek your cooperation in revising  the Revenue Framework to be based on assumptions for oil production of 2.2million  barrels per day and an oil benchmark of US$60 per barrel. This revision will imply aggregate revenue for the Federal government Budget of N2.392 trillion and a defeicit  of about N1.829 trillion (or 5.6% of GDP) based on the proposed Amendment Budget’s level of expenditure.


“Regarding expenditure to be appropriated by the 2010 Amendment Budget proposal, I seek your cooperation to substitute the budgets  of eight (8) MDAs with revised versions. This substitution is as a result of re-prioritisation of capital projects by the state House, the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air Force, the Intelligence community and the Ministers  of Aviation, Health, the Federal Capital Territory and Foreign Affairs. There are also slight amendments to the Consolidated Revenue Fund charges as well as the automatic adjustment to Statutory transfers based on the revised Revenue Framework,” Jonathan said.


In a letter addressed to the  Speaker  of the House, Hon. Dimeji Bankole,  the President said  there was need for some slight amendments to the Supplementary Budget proposals because some projects in eight MDAs have been reviewed downwards, while others have been  completely dropped.The affected MDAs include the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation [OSGF], Ministry of Information and Communications, Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Ministry of Women Affairs, Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory, Ministry of Aviation, National Planning Commission and National Assembly Office.


Jonathan  also requested  that additional funds be allocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate the posting  and movement of ambassadors and diplomatic staff, and for the Ministry for Niger Delta Affairs to commence training  programmes for non-militant Niger Delta youths.In view of the protests coming from the key House Committees in charge of the budget process,  Bankole appealed  for calm and urged  the various standing committees to brace up for the emerging  challenges posed by the budget. He said rather than complain, the House would defer its long vacation by two weeks to ensure that the budget was ready for passage and implementation before proceeding on the recess.


Meanwhile, following widespread criticism of the Federal Government’s plan to spend N16.4 billion on the country’s 50th independence anniversary celebration, President Jonathan has slashed the golden jubilee budget to N9.5 billion. As a prelude to the anniversary celebration, an investment and business summit was organised in London last week which was expected to be attended by the President and at least 18 governors. President Jonathan pulled out of the summit at the last minute.The summit was widely criticised by opposition parties and politicians as a jamboree.





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