Budget: NASS plans new transparency measures

THE Management of the National Assembly has concluded plans to institute fresh measures to promote accountability and transparency in its budgeting procedures, sources in the legislature have said.

The sources privy to some documentations already endorsed by the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Mohammed Sani-Omolori, and the political wing of the legislature headed by Senate President, Dr  Bukola Saraki disclosed this to Nigerian Tribune that the National Assembly was proposing some “fiscal and monetary disciplinary measures” to aide transparency and accountability.

Some human rights activists and the suspended Chairman of House Committee on Appropriations, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibril, had lambasted the legislature over perceived secrecy in its budgets in recent months.

But, it was learnt that by the new measures, the National Assembly would be able to address the persistent outcry of secrecy around its annual budget as the Management is set to publicise new financial procedures by which Nigerians could access and make meaning of legislative budget.

According to the sources, the new Clerk is determined to taking the legislature out of the seeming negative public perception as exemplified by the outcry against the lawmakers each budget season.

“Against the background of persistent outcry by the public and some legislators to disclose their wages, salaries and allowances, the leadership of the National Assembly has concluded on the introduction of new fiscal and monetary budgetary measures,” a source said.

It was gathered that the management of the National Assembly had concluded on ways by which it will streamline the issue of First Line Charge and the running cost for legislators.

A document to that effect already ratified by the NASS Management and the political arm of the legislature indicated one of the quick steps if for the National Assembly to put in place an Accounting Manual different from the current Charts of Account developed by the Executive.

The new Manual, it was learnt, will directly reflect the peculiarities of National Assembly, while encouraging accountability and open access by the public.

The document sighted by our correspondent also indicated that the leadership of the National Assembly planned to introduce a clause in the Procurement Act currently being amended to guarantee the development of Procurement Manual by the Legislature and Judiciary, as well as agencies that enjoy First Line Charge in the polity.

The source said: “I can confirm to you, the political and management arms of the legislature are agreeable on this. The National Assembly is currently in the process of amending the Procurement Act and that provides a ready made window to introduce a clause for the new procurement Manual that will cover the Judiciary and the National Assembly. These are agencies that are granted First Line Charge according to the Constitution.”

It was learnt that the political and management wings of the National Assembly had agreed to seek inputs of the offices of the Accountant General and Auditor General of the Federation to enhance implementation as well as for their guidance and implementation.