Stalemate as FG, Senate maintain positions over Amaechi budget
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Stalemate as FG, Senate maintain positions over Amaechi’s budget



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The rancour created by the executive and legislative arms of government over the 2016 budget deepened Tuesday as both arms of government maintained their stands, unwilling to back down or admit any slip up.

The confusion centred around the Calabar-Lagos rail project, which the Senate said was not in the original appropriation bill sent to it in December, but the federal government has insisted that the project was captured in the budget.

While the Senate suggested that it is open in to the project being sent to for approval in a supplementary budget, the executive was adamant, insisting that the projects under the supervision of Ministry of Transport headed by Rotimi Amaechi were in the budget.

Spokesperson of the senate, Abdullahi Sabi, who reiterated the Senate’s position on the matter however said “that the Lagos-Calabar project was not in the budget does not undermine its importance. The national assembly is open; whenever the executive brings the supplementary budget regarding the project, it will be honoured. But we must remain guided by the constitution. That we pass the budget has not ended our responsibility. We have to move to oversight functions. We know it is an important project and we are ready to honour it. The way forward is that we have passed budget, and we are saying bring a supplementary appropriation bill.”

But in a statement by the Media Adviser to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr. James Akpandem on Tuesday, the federal government insisted that the relevant committees of the parliament received the document.

Read also: Budget: Stop the campaign of calumny, NASS tells Presidency

He said that “With reference to the specific issue of the Calabar – Lagos rail project, we will like to state that the two railway projects, Lagos – Kano and the Calabar – Lagos, are very important projects of the present administration; and it was always the intention of the Executive to have both projects reflected in the budget submitted to the National Assembly.

“However, it will be recalled that the Budget Office made a number of errors in the initial proposals of a number of ministries. These errors were all corrected by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning and the corrected versions were submitted to the relevant committees of the National Assembly. This included that of the Ministry of Transportation.

“The amended Ministry of Transportation budget was accepted by the relevant committees and that was the version defended by the Minister of Transportation and his team.

“It must be emphasized that the two rail projects are part of those for which the President is currently negotiating funding with the Chinese government.

“It is hoped that with this clarification, the raging controversy over the Calabar – Lagos rail
project will be put to rest”, the statement read.

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