27 January 2012
By Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai
We will revisit our analysis of the security sector budget beginning with some clarifications and rebuttal of the Budget Office's right of reply to last week's column titled - "Where el-Rufai Got it Wrong". I commend the Budget Office for choosing to respond this way instead of asking the SSS to arrest me as the President did on July 1, 2011.
Nigerians now know that our JV cash call budget for 2012 is some N832 billion (about $5.4 billion). But where is that detailed in the Appropriation Bill? Is it not a violation of the Constitution for this huge item of expenditure to be incurred without specific inclusion in a money bill passed by the National Assembly? Is the approval of MTFF required by the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 enough to override the requirements of the Constitution? I think not!
The same applies to the special funds for the federation. Last time I checked they added up to 7.5%, and no new revenue allocation law has been passed yet. And there is a world of difference between "fuel subsidy removal (FSR)" and deregulation. It is sacrilegious to some of us that deregulated some monopoly sectors to confuse the two. The attempt by the budget office to refer to the partial FSR which hiked the price of petrol to N97 per liter as 'partial deregulation' is simply untenable. This administration is not deregulating the petroleum sector today. It is desperately looking for easy money to fund its profligate habits and thought the FSR would be one source. When the Petroleum Industry Bill is enacted into law, we will concede that deregulation has been restarted. Until then, we should call a spade a spade!