Buhari, NASS leaders strike deal on 2018 budget

2018 budgetPRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly appear to have struck a deal on the possible passage of the 2018 budget, sources close to the administration have said.

The Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, on Thursday, visited the Presidential Villa, to deliberate with the president on the thorny aspects of the budget.

But, sources close to the administration said on Friday night that the meeting between Buhari, and the Presiding officers including  Saraki and  Dogara, appeared to have doused the tension.

“The budget may be passed before the end of March,” said a source.

Another source in the know about the discussions between the presiding officers and Buhari said that the meeting was cordial and that the president expressed surprise that many ministries and agencies were holding down the budget.

The source said: “President Muhammadu Buhari, was actually surprised when told that the problem with the budget is not that  with the Assembly but that some ministers and agencies have not appeared before the National Assembly to defend their budgets.

“Some 70 per cent of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have not submitted their budgets to the National Assembly as we speak.

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“The meeting between the President and the National Assembly leaders was not only cordial, but it discussed the  issue of 2018 budget extensively.

“The president actually apologised to the National Assembly leaders on hearing the true situation of things and he immediately directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to write all ministers and MDAs who are expected to sort out the budget issue within a week.

The budget, which was presented to the National Assembly on November 7, 2017, with the hope that the lawmakers would promptly pass the document and enable a January to December financial calendar.

But, the N8.6 trillion estimate has been stuck in the National Assembly since then, with lawmakers expressing doubts it would be passed before the end of the first quarter of the year.

On Tuesday, the Senate declared it was uncertain when the budget would be passed.

Members of the National Assembly have expressed doubts about the implementation of their constituency projects.

The percentage of implementation was at a time put at a meagre 11 per cent.

“We believe that once that is done, the coast will be clear for budget passage.

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