Senator Iyiola Omisore (APC-Osun) has said there is nothing like budget padding by the National Assembly.
He spoke days after President Bola Tinubu told lawmakers not to pad the 2024 Budget he presented to them.
Omisore, a former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, said this at a one-day citizens town hall meeting on the 2024 Appropriation Bill in Abuja on Monday.
He said this was because it is the duty of the lawmakers to scrutinise the budget and adjust it accordingly.
He said: “When you hear of padding, it is an embarrassment.
“There is nothing like padding.
“The President brought the budget, which is what we have now.”
Omisore said Civil Society Organisations should know that there was nothing like padding in the Nigerian budgeting system, adding: “The budget as presented by the President means that the National Assembly has the power to look into it and see whether it satisfies Nigerians or not.
“If you don’t give a budget, there is nothing to oversight.
“The moment you put blackmail on a budget, then you don’t believe in it.
“The budget belongs to the parliament.”
Rep. Benjamin Kalu, the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, said the budget plays a critical role in determining the allocation of resources, adding that it must be inclusive and reflect the needs and aspirations of the citizenry.
He said the town hall meeting provided a unique opportunity for the citizenry to understand the budget process.
Kalu urged the public to participate actively in the budget process, adding that Nigeria was faced with the challenge of limited resources and numerous demands.
He said: “The government is committed to fiscal responsibility, and the budget demonstrates prudent financial management.
“The 2024 budget will be an effective utilisation of budget resources and will serve the interests of the populace.”
Alhaji Sani Tambawal, the Clerk of the National Assembly, said that ignoring critical stakeholders in budget formulation was not good for the system.
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Tambawal said: “The budget is owned by the people.
“This town hall is in line with the agenda of the 10th House of Representatives.
:This will help to strengthen the democratic structure.”
He said that the town hall meeting would help in the open process and accountability in the budget process, adding that it would advance democratic processes and public policy formulation.