By Chris Nomjov
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said on Thursday that the National Assembly has reduced its overhead in the 2015 budget by 25 percent in response to the economic realities in the country.
Ekweremadu said the action would also help to boost the capital expenditure quotient in the 2015 fiscal year.
He said, “This year, because our money is on first line charge and comes as statutory transfer, the executive could not have tampered with it. They brought our overhead the way it should be in the 2015 Appropriation Bill.
“But on our own, we in the National Assembly looked at the state of the economy and decided to cut our overhead cost by 25 percent. We challenged the executive to go back and do the same.
“They accepted the challenge and cut further their overhead budget. So, we are hoping that Nigerians would see a remarkable improvement in the capital-overhead ratio in the 2015 budget.”
The deputy senate president stated this in Abuja at the opening of a two-day workshop organised by the State Accountability and Voice Initiative and the United Kingdom Department for International Development for Speakers and Clerks to the 36 State Assemblies.
The workshop centred on the implications of financial autonomy for state Houses of Assembly and strategies for its effective implementation.
Ekweremadu described the creation of a first line charge for the state Houses of Assembly as “one of the biggest achievements of the current constitutional amendment efforts in the pursuit of good governance, accountability, and fiscal federalism in Nigeria.”
He said, “With a first line charge on the Consolidated Revenue Fund, the state legislatures have become fully self-regulating, self-budgeting, self-reliant and wholly-autonomous from executive control.
“In other words, we have effectively averted a situation where he who pays the piper dictates the tune.
“We have carefully enthroned the equality of all arms of government and done away with a situation where state legislatures go cap in hand to the executive arm.”