Recession: NASS committees walk tight financial rope

Standing Committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives have been badly hit by the slash in the allocations to the national legislature.

Investigations by the Nigerian Tribune confirms that the Committees were gasping for breath financially, following the cut in the budget of the National Assembly from a height of N150 billion in 2014 to N120 billion in 2015 and then N115 billion in 2016.

Sources in the Assembly confirmed that Standing Committees, which were entitled to about N5million running cost per quarter, now get about N1 million, while the allocation for public hearings have also been cut from  N5 million per hearing to N2 million.

It was gathered that the allocations for public hearing actually vary from the weight of the event to the other.

While the highest figure now stands at N2 million, some committees are allocated N1.8 or N1.5 million for public hearings.

“The financial crisis has hit the committees of the National Assembly more than any other arm of the legislature. You can imagine that the Committees received only 10 per cent of their earlier allocations.

“Where the committees used to get N5 million, they now receive N1 million and for public hearings, it has also dropped from around N5million to N2 million in some cases and for others as low as N1.5 million. This has affected the operations seriously,” a source in the legislature said.

The Senate has 66 Standing Committees while the House of Representatives has 96 standing Committees.

Besides the reduction in allocations, the payment of salaries and allowances have also not been constant as before.

The National Assembly, which used to receive its allocations in the third week of the month up to early 2015, now gets its funds sometimes after 42 days.

Sources in the legislature also stated that whereas the National Assembly has been placed on First Line Charge to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, the Ministry of Finance releases the funds only when “money is available.”

The job of the Senate and House Services Committees have been made much more difficult as no one can say for sure when funds will be available in the National Assembly,” a source privy to the situation in the National Assembly said.