THE Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, on Tuesday, affirmed to newsmen that the 2016 budget document was still with the lawmakers.
“To my knowledge, the budget, as laid by Mr President on December 22, 2015, is still with the National Assembly and has not be withdrawn,” he said.
He added that if there was any need to necessitate the withdrawal, there would be communication, but added that budget figures could always be altered.
“It can be worked on behind the scene after second reading,” he said.
This was as the Senate leader, Senator Ali Ndume, said President Buhari could not withdraw the 2016 budget which he submitted to the National Assembly on December 22.
Ndume, who spoke to newsmen in the Senate on Tuesday, said the document submitted to the joint session of the National Assembly could not be withdrawn.
He said the president did not need to withdraw the budget because the figures contained were not sacrosanct.
The senator added that the lawmakers could always adjust the figures during budget defence process.
“It is impossible to withdraw the budget. It is not a document that you can just write and say you are withdrawing. The budget proposal that has been laid at a joint session of the National Assembly cannot just be withdrawn like that.
“Budget proposal is not a document that is sacrosanct, you can adjust it and this is why it is before us. During the budget defence, it can be adjusted if the need be,” he said.
Senator Kabiru Gaya, who also spoke on the budget told newsmen that the matter of budget withdrawal was not an issue.
He also said the document submitted to the National Assembly had not been withdrawn.
“I don’t think it has been withdrawn but whatever the case is, the figure of the entire budget will not change.
“Mostly it is adjustment of priority projects. During the media chat recently, the president specifically mentioned some few projects, especially some important roads in the country.
“It is possible that some of the roads may not have been reflected in the budget. There is no way if the president speaks on something, that may be part of his campaign promises and, I think, he will try and do it. He also spoke about the railway and that there is a counterpart funding to be put in to the project.
“So if the figure under the subhead is not defined, then he has the right to readjust it and bring it back to us. The adjustment can also be done even while we are still discussing the budget.
“Once the main figure does not change, it is possible to make the adjustment.
“Both chambers of the National Assembly will, for instance, tinker with the figures, especially as it affects overheads, if we are cutting 30 per cent from the National Assembly budget, then it has to be done, pro rata. We must cut across 30 percent across the agencies, ministries, and all other government parastatals.
“There are duplication of figures like purchase of computers. When all the duplications are discovered, it is necessary to take them out,” he said.