Senate denies frustrating 2017 budget proposal over constituency project issue

Senate denies frustrating 2017 budget proposal over constituency project issue

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The Senate, on Monday, dismissed news report that it was all out to frustrate the submission of the 2017 budget proposal by President Muhammadu Buhari because of the presidency’s aversion to the Senators’ constituency projects.

The Senate said the report published by a national daily was totally false and misleading.

It said the Senate only controverted some incongruities in the Medium Terms Expenditure Framework (MTEF) filed before it by the executive arm of government with the intent to straighten the noticeable anomalies likely to render the 2017 budget unworkable.

The Senate’s spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi, who made this known in a statement said the Senate only frowned at the unrealistic oil bench mark, exchange rate, estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and others which, it said, if approved would have caused problems for the implementation of the 2017 budget.

According to the statement, the Senate never referred to the issue of constituency project while the debating on the MTEF describing the news report as totally out of place.

Senator Sabi in the statement said, “The said news item in THISDAY is completely false. The Senate on November 22, 2016 at the plenary session deliberated on the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) and passed it on to its legislative committees for necessary legislative actions and recommendations.

“Throughout the debate at the plenary, no mention was made of the constituency projects of the lawmakers, as it was not the subject of debate. Rather, the Senators took time to comment on the observed deficiencies of the MTEF/FSP document before the National Assembly.

“The Senators observed the unrealistic aspect of the document pointing out that it was not in tune with realities on ground. For instance, the Senators that spoke complained against the crude oil benchmark projection and that expectation that over two million barrels of crude oil per day is being projected without taking into cognizance the militancy in the Niger Delta region.

“The Senate at the plenary was alarmed on the Naira projection to the US Dollar, which was not in tandem with the current Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) projection of N350 to a US Dollar, whereas the MTEF/FSP projected N290 to a US Dollar.

“The Senators also complained against the projected Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and projected growth in 2017 and other issues. In none of these were the issue of constituency projects mentioned.

“It therefore, beats the imagination where THISDAY and the so-called Presidency official got their information from. It must be a product of disinformation and attempt to blackmail the National Assembly.

“For the records, the Senate has discussed and passed the MTEF/FSP and subsequently referred it to the relevant Senate Committee and the committee will come up with its recommendations as soon as possible.”

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