The Senate has received a request from President Muhammadu Buhari for the virement of funds from various budget lines to fund the Federal Government’s priority projects and programs.
The Senate sent the request to its committee on appropriations.
But some lawmakers opposed the virement request from the President noting that the request is too early especially as the Executive has only released 340 billion for capital expenditure in the 2017 budget.
However, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, argued that virement is illegal as the constitution only recognizes appropriation and supplementary budgets as the financial instruments for requesting and spending money.
Senate President Bukola Saraki is insisting that there is no pending request from the Executive for foreign loans before the Senate.
Dr. Saraki is giving this explanation in response to statements by the Ministers of Finance and National Planning that the Executive is awaiting the resolution of the National Assembly on external borrowing to enable them to borrow to finance part of the capital component of the 2017 budget.
He made the explanation after the Chairman of the committee on appropriation Senator Danjuma Goje presented a report on the outcome of Tuesday’s interaction with the Ministers of Finance and Budget on the level of implementation of the 2017 budget.
The committee is recommending that necessary steps be taken to ensure that the executive does not embark on selective implementation under the guise of completing priority projects because it will offend the spirit of the Appropriation Act.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo had on July 20, 2017, written to the House of Representatives to request for a virement of 1365.6 billion Naira to some critical priority projects in the 2017 budget.
Prof. Osinbajo after signing the 2017 budget said that there was an agreement between the executive and the legislature that a request for virement can be sent later.
This he said was to make up for the decision of the lawmakers to slash allocation for some major projects.
These projects, according to him, include the railway standard gauge projects, the Mambilla Power Project, the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway etc. which they had reduced to fund some of the new projects they introduced.