From ISAAC ANUMIHE, Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan at the weekend directed the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to furnish it with the constitutional provisions of the veto threat on the 2013 budget by the National Assembly. Speaking to newsmen in Abuja, the Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Dr. Nwanze Okeidegbe, mentioned the issues which had delayed the signing of the budget, which include constituency projects injected into the budget document by the legislators and the reduction in the personnel estimates submitted by the executive.
He said in the interim, the executive and legislative arms had reached an understanding on how government would continue to function pending the resolution of the contentious issues and subsequent signing into law by the president. “I want to start by stressing that President Goodluck Jonathan wants to sign the 2013 budget as soon as possible if our discussions with the National Assembly lead to a resolution of certain key issues.
Remember that the executive submitted the budget to National Assembly in October 2012. Nigerians were very happy about this because it was a refreshing difference from the delays we had got used to. “We worked very hard to achieve this. So we definitely want budget implementation to begin as soon as possible so that Nigerians can start enjoying the many benefits in the budget. National Assembly returned the budget in December 2012. Upon review by the executive, some grey areas were identified and needed to be resolved. “Since then we have been working in partnership with the National Assembly to resolve the issues around the budget.
The president wants the issues resolved in a manner that will protect the best interest of the Nigerian people. He supports a collaborative approach in the discussions with the National Assembly. “We don’t want the current situation surrounding the budget to degenerate into an impasse because Nigerian people want results not disagreements. That is why we have asked the attorney general of the federation to furnish us with legal advice on the constitutionality of a veto and its application.
“There is an issue on constituency project, which is on the table and discussion is still ongoing and it is very difficult to give a definite answer on the matter when discussions are ongoing but we are making progress in reaching understanding and accommodation on the issues on the table. “The overhead, as passed by the National Assembly is higher than was submitted by the executive and again, we are having discussion and progress is being made but not fully resolved.” On Capital Votes, there were some reallocations.
Some went up and some went down and some were removed, thus making it difficult to implement. As a result of that we have pointed out those areas and both the National Assembly and the Executive are discussing with a view to resolving them. There were differences in what the Executive submitted in the votes for Personnel and what came back from the National Assembly as the votes were cut down.
This has remained unresolved. It would be difficult to pay salaries with the personnel votes they passed and this may lead to industrial challenges. But as I said we have been in discussion on it,” the Chief Economic Adviser to the President, further, disclosed.