Thursday, 31 May 2012

Senate Tackles Jonathan over Budget

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The last may not have been heard on the renewed
tussle between President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Assembly over which arm of government has the final say on the national budget.
Jonathan had a few days ago blamed the National Assembly for the inability of the executive arm of government to achieve full implementation of the annual budgets and accused the
lawmakers of multilating the budget proposals sent to the parliament, rendering it unimplementable.
But the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, who was present at the event insisted that the legislature had constitutional rights over appropriation bills as the elected representatives of the people.
However, the Senate yesterday joined the fray as it faulted  Jonathan’s position on the issue.
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said it was not true that the lawmakers were over-stepping their bounds in the  handling of  the appropriation bills sent to the National Assembly.
Ekweremadu who spoke at the opening of a public hearing on “A bill for an Act to Establish Erosion Control and Prevention Commission”, said that the National Assembly had the right to adjust budget proposals sent to it by the executive but has been villified whenever it exercised this right in the past.
According to Ekweremadu, it was to avoid this recurring row between the legislature and the executive that the National Assembly decided not to tamper with the 2012 appropriation bill but to pass the proposals as they were sent to the parliament.
He challenged the executive arm of government to ensure full implementation of this year's budget as there would no longer be any excuse of legislative mutilation.
“We are challenging the executive to ensure a hundred per cent implementation of the 2012 Appropriation Act. They can no longer have any excuse because we returned it substantially as it was presented to avoid being blamed for making alterations or delayed passage of the budget,” he said.
The Senate, Ekweremadu said, would also welcome the idea of the executive going to the Supreme Court to seek legal interpretation of the power of appropriation as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
According to him, the Senate believes that the power of appropriation constitutionally belonged to the National Assembly but would abide by the ruling of the Supreme Court on the issue.
Chairman Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Senator Bukola Saraki, who spoke on the essence of the erosion control commission bill explained that studies have shown that every one of the 36 state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had one form of environmental problem or the other.
Saraki said besides these natural environmental problems, there were also man-made problems in the environment. These include air and water pollution arising from human and industrial activities.
“There is no doubt that erosion problem in the country has become a serious menace dislodging the delicate equilibrium of our ecosystem, results in the loss of human lives and destroyed infrastructure, thereby causing social dislocation of affected population especially in the rural areas and affecting the national economy among others.
There is no gainsaying that we need a new approach to tackling the problem, but while doing this we must have at the back of our minds the other ecological issues such as desertification, flooding and climate change,” Saraki said. Source: Thisday

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