The National Assembly has increased its 2017 budget in this year’s Appropriation Bill to N150 billion as against the initial proposed N120 billion.
A source in the Senate explained that the raise was necessary as the legislature could no longer deploy the pooled resources for services provided in the National Assembly.
“We are opening our budget to scrutiny and since we are doing that, there are more exigencies such as services being provided in the National Assembly, they are getting more money.
“More importantly, now that we are opening the budget, it means we have to account for all the activities: the monies used to clean the House and Senate, for instance. We use cleaning agencies for this, as we do not have civil servants who clean the premises. It is done on a contractual agreement. We also have people fuelling the generators and all that.
“As against what happened in the past, when we just went into a pool of funds and took the money, now there is need to account for every naira that is spent.
“So they had to get the kind of costing applicable for those things, and in the process of getting the official costing for these things, some of these services have increased due to the foreign exchange rate. These include the cost of diesel; purchase of utility vehicle; etc., which have all increased.
“As such, it is even good that we are now accounting for it,” the source said.
Another unidentified source also said Nigerians should disabuse their minds on the impression that the legislature’s budget covers just the 109 senators and 360 House members alone.
“The budget is for the National Assembly and its three agencies: National Assembly Service Commission, National Institute for Legislative Studies and the Public Complaints Commission.
“The National Assembly alone has at least 3,500 staff and over 5,000 legislative aides. They are all paid from within this budget,” the source explained.