Friday, 11 April 2014

Reps Demand N45million Each As Quarterly Allowance

At a closed door meeting with the leadership of the House of Representatives, members of the House, on Wednesday, reportedly demanded for increase in their quarterly allowance to N45 million, Nigerian Tribune can report.

Findings revealed that each member of the House currently enjoys  N27 million per quarter as allowances.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that members of the House from both ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and opposition parties were in unison on the clamour for increase in the quarterly allowance.

It was also learnt that members, at the closed door meeting, held at hearing room 028 at the House of Representatives building, queried the leadership of the House on its inability to accommodate their “interest” in the 2014 budget estimates still awaiting the passage of the House.

The meeting, held before the Wednesday’s plenary session, according to the Nigerian Tribune, dwelt on members’ welfare.
According to a member who pleaded anonymity, “members of the House do not get to see the details of the National Assembly N150 billion yearly budget estimate.”

A source in the know confided in the Nigerian Tribune that members were particularly angry over the secrecy that surrounded the National Assembly yearly N150 billion budget.

Clamour for increase in the quarterly allowance to N45 million, the Nigerian Tribune learnt, was spearheaded by a female lawmaker from the South-South, who reportedly jumped on the table  to marshal her points on the need for increase in the lawmakers’ quarterly allowance.
After making her presentation, it was learnt that members present at the meeting clapped in support of her submission.

On the increase in the quarterly allowance, a member of the House told the Nigerian Tribune that the National Assembly budget, if well utilised, would accommodate the increase, saying that “the money is there, what are they doing with the money?”

A member also told the Nigerian Tribune in confidence that “2014 budget estimates, transparency and accountability were the main issues discussed at the closed door meeting.”

Nigerian Tribune also learnt that different meetings were scheduled by the leadership of the House to address issues raised by members, so as to have smooth passage of the budget today.

Most members, it was gathered, had stood their grounds that if their interests were not accommodated, they would not pass the budget.

It was also learnt that members had shown their grievances on the budget when it was first listed on the order paper on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Honourable John Owan-Enoh, presented its committee’s report on 2014 budget estimate to the House for consideration.

The Speaker, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, however, hinted that the N4.642 trillion budget estimates would be passed today.
Nigerian Tribune, however, learnt that the House would be embarking on Easter break today.

Senate passes N4.695 budget
The Senate, on Wednesday, passed the 2014 budget, four months after its presentation to the National Assembly.

The budget, totaling N4.695 trillion, is N52.2 billion higher than the N4.642 trillion submitted to the lawmakers on December 19, 2013 through the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The lawmakers, at the Wednesday sitting, had considered the report of the Appropriation Committee headed by Senator Ahmed Maccido, which recommended the passage of the budget bill and passed the same after a clause by clause consideration.

A breakdown of the budget indicated that the sum of  N408,687,801,891 was approved for statutory transfers, while debts service would gulp N712 billion. Recurrent Expenditure was put at N2,454,887,566,702, while capital votes stood at N1,119,614,631,407.

Senate President, David Mark, who presided over the plenary, thanked his colleagues for passing the budget, while also urging the Federal Government to ensure its implementation.

While presenting the report of his committee to the Senate on Wednesday, Senator Maccido said it adopted a benchmark price of $77.50 per barrel of crude oil, as well as the production figure of 2.38 million barrels per day and an exchange rate of N160 to $1.

He called for a retooling of the 2014-2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) upon which the 2014 budget rested, adding that the issue of planning needed to be taken into adequate consideration.

He noted that the drops in the volume of oil production and budget implementation challenges were some of the concerns of his committee.
Also on Wednesday, the Senate passed the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) component of the budget, which was added to its final figures.

The Senators passed the sum of N268,370,000,000 as SURE-P funds for 2014.

Senate suspends voting on constitution amendment

The Senate, on Wednesday, deferred voting on the clauses of the 1999 Constitution slated for amendment.

Senate President, David Mark, had, Wednesday last week, announced to senators that they should be ready to vote on the constitution amendment items this week.

But the senators could not go ahead with the planned voting when it was discovered that the number of lawmakers in attendance was only slightly above the required two thirds.

Also on Wednesday, chairman of Senate Committee on Constitution review, Ike Ekweremadu, also announced the suspension of the additional amendment to Section Nine of the Constitution, seeking to empower the president to propose amendments to the constitution.

The clause was introduced last week, with some senators expressing the view that the plot would legitimise the national conference.

Mark, who presided over the sitting, said voting was suspended because the senators in attendance were slighltly above 73, which is the two thirds of 109.

He stated that constitution amendment exercise was a serious matter which every senator was supposed to participate in.

The Senate president, therefore, urged his colleagues to ensure they attend the next sitting, adding that they needed to participate in the “all important process of constitution amendment”

Senator Ekweremadu also told the Senate that his committee had further deliberated extensively on the planned amendment of Section Nine.

He stated that while the Senate was looking forward to the inauguration of a conference committee, the House of Representatives, which is also looking at the amendment procedure, received six new requests which, he said, had serious implications for the electoral process.

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