Wednesday, 13 January 2016

‘Missing’ 2016 Budget Documents: Senate awaits probe report

‘Missing’ 2016 Budget Documents: Senate awaits probe report

A committee mandated by the Senate to investigate the controversy surrounding the “missing” 2016 budget is to submit its report on Thursday.

The committee was set up at an closed-door session of the Senate on Tuesday when the matter was discussed.

On Wednesday, Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP-Abia State), raised a point of order asking the senate to clear the air on the missing budget.

He said the matter had become an urgent issue of public importance, hence the need to account to the public.

But the Senate President, Bukola Saraki (APC-Kwara State), said the Senate would wait for the ad hoc committee to look into the matter and submit its report on Thursday.

“As we know we are all part of the decision. We gave assignment to some people and they will come back tomorrow,” he said.

The Senate also announced it would debate the 2016 budget from Tuesday, and that lawmakers would receive copies of the document by Thursday.

The upper lawmaking body is expected to produce new copies of the budget, after senators told PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday that copies handed over by President Muhammadu Buhari had surprisingly disappeared.

Senators said they suspected the presidency secretly withdrew the documents for some modification, a claim the presidency denied.

Officials well briefed on the matter told PREMIUM TIMES that both the leadership of the National Assembly and the presidency, as well as Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office, were working to discreetly change certain parameters of the budget proposal following the slide in the global oil price.

Speaking Wednesday, Mr. Saraki said senators would start deliberation of the budget on Tuesday, but would only receive copies on Thursday.

Meanwhile, while the senate awaits the conclusion of its investigation, Yakubu Dogara, the speaker of the House of Representatives on Wednesday displayed a copy of the budget during the house’s sitting, saying the budget was not missing.

Mr. Dogara said the report of the missing budget was an “April fool”.

Editor’s Note: The senate said members would receive copies of the budget Thursday, not next week, as stated in our earlier report. The error is regretted.