Paschal Emeka, Abuja

The House of Representatives has vowed to punish government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that refused to appear before it for 2023 budget defence.

Speaking while briefing the House newsmen in Abuja, the Chairman House Committee on Media and Public Affairs Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu explained that all Committees of the House of Representatives at the National Assembly will conduct it’s 2023 Budget defence session with the MDAs in full glare of the public.

Kalu promised that any difference in statistics observed between figures from the executive and Legislature shall be harmonized before the final passage of the Budget.

Kalu also explained that the House will scrutinize the annual appropriation bill presented to a joint sitting of the National Assembly by the President recently in line with their constitutional mandate.

President Muhammadu Buhari had during his budget speech said that the total FGN budget estimate for the 2023 fiscal year is put at N20.51 trillion and the estimate was prepared amidst a very challenging global economy.

Hon. Kalu also said the that the budget was weakened by lingering effects of Covid-19 pandemic, high inflation, high crude oil prices resulting in high cost of premium motor spirit subsidy and spill-over effects of the Russia-Ukraine war.

The budget figure N20.51 trillion as presented by the President was jerked up by N75 billion as against the N19.67 trillion passed by the House in the Medium.Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper MTEF/FSP submitted to the parliament 

Hon. Kalu while fielding questions from Journalists expressed the determination of the House to make sure the MDAs answer relevant questions on the implementation of the previous and current budget estimates.

He said: “many persons have expressed surprises about the huge figure of the 2023 budget. We ‘ll make sure that we ask the relevant questions on the implementation of the 2022 budget.

“We insisted that the projects in the budget must be done according to national development plans. It is the duty of parliament to determine whether it is proper to raise the figure or not”.

On the defense of the budget by MDAs at the various parliamentary committees, he said that the scrutiny of these estimates of these government ministries and agencies officials will be done professionally in the presence of the media, attentive and curious Nigerian public.

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