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Monday, July 18, 2011

"No supplementary budget for National Assembly Members says Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has told the National Assembly not to expect any supplementary budget in favour of its members.
Jonathan, who is reportedly worried over the huge deficit of over N1tn in the budget, was said to have made this known to the Senate President, Mr. David Mark, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, when they met recently in Abuja.

It was learnt that Jonathan had given this condition before signing the 2011 budget, which was reviewed from N4.7tn to N4.4tn at his behest.

However, Mark and Tambuwal were said to have re-opened the issue with the President following the financial challenges of the upper and lower legislative chambers in getting the new set of lawmakers to settle down for duties.

But it was gathered that Jonathan stuck to his earlier position not to submit any supplementary budget this year in spite of protests by the new federal lawmakers over the 40 per cent slash in the running cost of the National Assembly.

A National Assembly source, who was privy to deliberations at the meeting, told THE PUNCH that “except there is a U-turn, which is not likely in the present circumstances, there will be no supplementary budget this year.”

The source added, “The only promise the President made was that he would lay the estimates of the 2012 budget before the National Assembly on time.

“Unlike in the past when estimates were laid in December, the President wants to lay the proposals early this year.

“This will also be in compliance with Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, which requires that such estimates must get to the National Assembly three months to the expiration of the fiscal year.”

The disquiet in the Senate over the slash in allowances (or running cost) by 40 per cent is said to be responsible for the delay in paying allowances to senators.

The aggrieved senators reportedly held a meeting on the matter on July 8, and decried the Senate leadership’s decision to make their allowances so meager, even when the old senators had enjoyed a jumbo pay in the last legislative session.

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