The House of Representatives on Tuesday confirmed that the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, breached the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 S21.
According to the House the minister breached the breached the Act by failing to attach the details of the budget of the 31 government agencies currently listed under the law to the 2014 budget currently before the National Assembly.
A six man advisory committee set up on Tuesday last week to adviseon whether the budget should be debated or not noted that Okonjo-Iweala failed to comply with the provision of Section 21(II) of the Act, where she was required to attach details of the budget of the agencies for consideration by the National Assembly.
The report stated that what the minister attached to the national budget was the “summary”of the budget of the agencies and not a detailed breakdown as required by the law.
“As a committee, the documents attached to the budget do not fulfill the requirement of the Act because they contain just the summary.
“Section 39 of the Act even says a breach of the Act is criminal,” the Chairman of the committee and chairman, House Committee on Rules/Business, Mr. Albert Sam-Tsokwa, told members as he presented the report on Tuesday.
The committee however recommended that the debate on the budget should go on “in national interest” so long as Okonjo-Iweala provides the details before the budget was passed.
The committee argued that in spite of the established breach of the Act, the House would not stop the budget debate because it was equally an obligation under Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution for the House to pass the budget of the country.
Sam-Tsokwa spoke further, “The breach of the Act was by the minister; there was a clear breach and the minister has to properly provide those details in compliance with Section 21 of the Act.
“It is the conclusion of the committee that the budget debate will go on for national interest while the minister complies with the law.”
Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, the Speaker ruling on the report said the point of order raised by Mr. Emmanuel Jime (APC, Benue) was “sustained”.
The budget debate was stalled by Jime’s point of order last week, as he had observed that the budget was in breach of the act.
The Speaker ruled that the report would guide the House as members debated the budget. He blamed the rush with which the budget was sent to the National Assembly without adequate details of the agencies on jostling for political office positions ahead of 2015.