National Assembly Complex
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The Presidency Friday said notwithstanding the row generated by last Tuesday's budget presentation by President Goodluck Jonathan, it would be in the interest of the country that the Bill is passed on or before January, next year.
Speaking to Journalists in Abuja on the fall-outs of the presentation of the 2013 appropriation Bill, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak described the alleged threat by the Minority Leader in House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila that the budget may not be passed this year as unbecoming and treasonable.
Against the backdrop of the exchange of words between the Presidency and National Assembly, Gulak said there was no such fight between the executive and the legislature.
He said the 2013 budget proposal is a comprehensive and highly prioritized one that is meant to being about total transformation of the economy of the country.
"The 2013 budget is a budget of transformation. Federal Government has prioritized its projects and one thing that stands out is the early presentation of this year's budget, The budget is a comprehensive document intended to bring about comprehensive transformation of the country, especially in the areas of Power, Defence, Education and infrastructure.," he said.
He claimed that judging by responses by Nigerians, the budget “is a positive document” adding that more than 80 per cent of those who have commented on the budget have commended the document and the target it set out to achieve after its passage, pointing out that the budget would have been presented before now but for the excuses given by the National Assembly.
According to him, as part the sense of urgency attached to the budget, President Jonathan was ready to present the budget on the 18th of September but the National Assembly deferred it.
"The National Assembly said they were just coming back from recess. Again when Mr. President came from the official trip to the United Nations, he was ready to present the budget on October 4th, still the House of Representatives said they were going on a one week oversight tour, " he said.
The President's aide said Jonathan does not feel there is need for any war of words between the National Assembly and the Executive, especially on the issue as crucial as the national budget.
"There is no fight between the National Assembly and the President. You see when the budget was being presented, the Senate President set out three issues for consideration, need for National Assembly oversight function, whether or not they have powers to tinker with the budget or whether they will just rubber- stamp it and return to the executive.
"It was a mature and fair comment and as far the President is concerned, it is well taken. We are running a democracy and he feels the legislature has the right to tinker with the national budget. I do not think it is proper especially in situations where such adjustments will make the budget almost impossible to implement. I will give an example, if you want buy a truck, the price is N5m and it is known all over the world.