BudgIT faults Mark’s claim on N’Assembly budget details
BUDGIT, a rights group which champions awareness on budget matters, has faulted the claim by the Senate President David Mark that the budget of the National Assembly(NASS) is not a secret document.
David Mark, on Monday during a retreat organised for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Assembly members-elect in Port Harcourt, Rivers State insisted that NASS budget is open and disagreed on the need for the House to cut its budget in line with the country’s current economic realities.
But in a statement yesterday, BudgIT insisted that the details of the NASS budget have not been placed in the public domain in the last five years.
According to BudgIT, no one can specifically state how the NASS spends its budget annually and no public library has any given information regarding this.
“BudgIT took NASS to court, challenging this unfortunate situation, where the same institution which passed the FOI Act refused to obey it.
“As at today, Mark’s led NASS is spending scarce public funds to defend this lawsuit; to ensure that a breakdown of the NASS budget never sees the light of public scrutiny. Mark’s anger at a call for transparency in its basic form shows the disdain with which he treats citizens’ demand for accountability.
The group added: “every release of the NASS budget in the last five years only presented a single, total figure, which does not state exactly how much of taxpayers’ funds went into the personnel costs of NASS members, allowance and other agencies.
This is typical of the NASS and other statutory.”
The Lead partner at BUdgIT, Seun Onigbinde said Mark seems to be under the erroneous impression that a single, blanket figure is transparent enough.
“The overwhelming desire of Nigerians is not Mark’s definition of transparency, but a full, line-by-line declaration of expenditure, available to citizens across every literary class, as evidenced by our #OpenNASS campaign,” Onigbinde said.
He further stressed: “in the Budget Implementation Report released by the Budget Office, since 2011, a sum of N37.5billion (on a quarterly basis) was given to the NASS without any refunds or detail of expenses.
“This does not follow international practices in the United Kingdom or the United States, where all expense sheets of parliamentarians are available online.
“On March 17,2015, BudgIT, in collaboration with the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) made a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request to the Clerk of the NASS, requesting for a detailed breakdown of the NASS budget of N600billion between 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. The Performance Reports for the NASS budget of N150billion for 2011, 2012 and 2013 were also requested.
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