Group urges NASS against budget padding
BudgiT Foundation Nigeria, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) says it is pertinent for the National Assembly to guard against padding of the 2023 budget in view of current economic reality.
Mr Gabriel Okeowo, the Country Director of the foundation, said this in a telephone interview with our reporter on Tuesday, in Abuja.
He said increasing the size of the 2023 budget proposal above the N20.5 trillion presented by President Muhammadu Buhari would weigh so much on the economy.
According to him, the economy is already battling inflation, high interest rate among other economic challenges and should not be further burdened with a budget that will prompt more borrowing.
“The National Assembly should make sure that they streamline the 2023 budget proposal to make it as implementable as possible.
“From what we have seen over the years, no matter the size of the budget proposal presented to the national assembly, when it is coming out, there would be insertions that would blow it up.
“For instance, the President while assenting to the 2022 budget, said the National Assembly inserted several new projects.
“So, we have to start now to let the lawmakers know we are following up on the ongoing budget defence by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs),” he said.
He said the legislature should be able to stand its ground to ensure that it cuts down on frivolous items presented by MDAs.
He said if it would be difficult to reduce borrowing to fund the budget, the National Assembly should then be stringent on items that would form it.
He, however, said if the National Assembly refused to take to advice to streamline the budget proposal, the executive should reject it.
“On the side of the executive, it also needs to sit up because democracy is a system that checkmates itself.
“If the National Assembly ends up not doing what it is supposed to do, the Executive should be able to stand its grounds to return the budget for amendment.
“We should not for the sake of wanting to sign the budget into law by December, to keep to January-December Calender, mess up the credibility of the budget itself,” he said.