More facts have emerged on why President Goodluck Jonathan has not signed budget 2013 as about five grey areas are now identified by the Joint Committee of the Executive and the Legislature working on the budget.
It has been gathered that the areas of differences include the personnel cost, capital cost, SURE-P budget, SEC exclusion and the constituency project with the committee reported to be meeting regularly to finalise areas of disagreements.
It was learnt that the personnel cost as passed by the legislature is lower than what was submitted by the executive, leading to fears that approving the budget as passed may create crisis in the payment of salaries of civil servants.
On the overhead cost, checks showed that the approved amount was higher than what was submitted by the executive with the harmonisation committee now looking at ways of correcting the differences.
The capital budget is said to be lightly affected though investigation showed that the differences centre on re-allocations of some sub-heads. The SURE-P budget is also said to be affected in the areas of re-arrangements of programmes which are currently being looked into.
The exclusion of the budget of the Security and Exchange Commission from the approved budget is reported to be under discussion, also with the joint committee said to be far from arriving at consensual position on the request of the executive for the inclusion of the commission budget.
The Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Dr Nwanze Okidegbe, however, confirmed that both arms of government are making steady progress in making the budget a reality.
He explained that after the National Assembly passed the budget in December 2012, a review by the executive showed some grey areas which, if unresolved, may create implementation crisis, adding that “the president wants the issues resolved in a manner that will protect the best interests of the Nigerian people.
While disclosing that the president supports collaborative approach to resolving the issue, the presidential aide said “we don’t want the current situation to degenerate into an impasse because Nigerian people want results, not disagreement.
“Even if the president was to simply sign the budget, there will be implementation problems. The personnel issue may lead to industrial crisis among others,” he said, adding that “this is why there is an ongoing discussion to straighten out the grey areas.
“For instance, with regards to issues surrounding personnel cost, we have made some progress in resolving them and we expect further progress so that we don’t compromise salaries of civil servants and other related costs,” he said.
On the budget for the Security and Exchange Commission, the presidential aide said discussion is ongoing on the matter with the lawmakers, even as he noted that the issue of constitutional limitation on assent to bills will be handled by the Attorney General’s office.
“Let me use this medium to reassure Nigerians that we are making progress in our discussions with the National Assembly committee led by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu,” he said, adding that “the summary is that we are working with the National Assembly to produce an implementable budget which will have positive impacts on the lives of Nigerians.