We never withdraw 2016 Budget from National Assembly, says FG

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The Federal Government yesterday denied withdrawing the 2016 Budget proposal presented to the National Assembly in December.

Reports, especially on social media, had attributed the purported withdrawal to suspicious bloating of budgetary votes in the proposal.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed and Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun said the allegations were false.

Mohammed said: “When somebody from the Daily Trust called me, I told him categorically that there is nothing like that. When a story like this breaks out, I believe it will help all of us to actually be able to pin point the source.

“I know for a fact that this administration has not withdrawn the budget from the National Assembly.”

He also denied the accusation by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that All Progressives Congress (APC) controlled government plans to exterminate the opposition.

He said: “I think the first point to make is that this government is not micro-managing any of the anti-graft agencies. I know for a fact that they don’t contact the President or anybody before they do their job. I think the media also has to do more than they are doing right now, they should investigate these allegations and also make their independent judgment about it.

“Honestly if the EFCC or ICPC says that they are able to trace certain amount of money to my account, I don’t want you to believe it, I want you to also ask for proof, do your investigation. I can assure you that this government, no functionary in government micromanages or directs the EFCC or ICPC on who to arrest and who not to arrest.”

Speaking further on the alleged withdrawal of the 2016 Budget proposal, Adeosun said: “Let me just speak to you about the budget process. You know the budget is presented to the NASS and then there is what we call an interactive budget approval process and you know the agencies will still go and defend their budget at the NASS.

“So ordinary in budget processes anywhere in the world, there can’t be amendments to the budgets arising from that interactive process, which is normal. But let me make it very clear the budget is not being withdrawn or replaced, the budget has been presented and will go through normal process whereby MDAs defend their budgets.

“It is possible in the process of that, because as you know the legislature is not a rubber stamp, their job is to scrutinize the budget and to approve that budget. So there may be some changes that occur as a result of that interactive process. But that process is normal everywhere in the world where a budget is presented. So I think it is important to make that clarification.”

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