Chairman, House Services Committee, Hon. Yakubu Dogara
By Onwuka Nzeshi
The House of Representatives Tuesday gave reasons why it changed position on its initial tough stance on the 2013 Appropriation Act and passed the executive bill seeking to amend it.
It said what it and the Senate eventually passed last week was not the same bill they had earlier rejected but a new version that conformed to the basic features of an amendment bill.
The explanation came same day the House blamed the decline in revenue receipts from the Nigeria Customs Service on the federal government's indiscriminate granting of waivers, concessions and exemptions to some individuals and organisations on their imports.
The lower chamber of the National Assembly had thrown out the budget amendment bill on the grounds that it was voluminous, non-specific and above all, unconstitutional.
Chairman, House Services Committee, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, said the House’s opposition to the bill was because of the way the executive had presented it to the legislature.
Dogara, who raised the constitutional order against the budget amendment bill, disclosed that the initial bill could not be passed because the 1999 Constitution did not envisage an amendment to an Appropriation Act, except in the form of a Supplementary Appropriation Bill.
He spoke when he appeared as a guest on the “Hot Seat,” a media interactive series of the House Press Corps.
According to Dogara, the initial budget amendment bill came without the principal Act and the necessary annexure indicating what specific areas that needed amendment.
“You will notice that when we threw out the bill, the executive sent in another version that contained what we were asking for and that was why we decided to consider and pass it. We did not want to be seen as making unnecessary trouble. We did what we did in the interest of the nation,” he said.
On the declining revenue receipts from Customs, Dogara attributed it to the practice of granting waivers, concessions and exemptions to individuals and organisations.
He alleged that the federal government had over the years granted the waivers without considering their negative impacts on revenue generation.
He also cited examples of situations at the ports, which create room for revenue leakages.
Dogara said that though the National Assembly had conducted investigations and made recommendations on ways to curb corruption and revenue leakages at the ports, the most critical recommendations were seldom implemented by the government.