The Presidency has said that the N6.08trn budget proposal for 2016 it presented to the National Assembly is still open to comments and reproach from the public.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said this in a statement on Sunday.
According to Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration would continue to welcome “well-meaning criticism” of its policies, budget and expenditure because that was the only way the change promised during the election campaign, would have a meaning.
The presidential spokesman said it was based on this conviction and in line with established traditions Buhari directed that the 2016 budget proposal be put on the website of the Budget Office so that Nigerians could read it and make their observations.
He pointed out that the suggestions to the effect that the Presidency was misleading the public on any aspects of the budget could not stand the test of time.
Shehu explained that based on a recent report on the allocation to the State House Clinic in the budget, the Budget Office had supplied a summary of the allocations to the various sectors under the Ministry of Health.
He stated that it showed clearly that the published story was inaccurate, saying the office affirmed that in terms of both capital and recurrent allocations, the draft budget had put more money in the 17 teaching hospitals than it did in the State House Clinic.
The State House Clinic got an allocation of N3.8 billion in the 2016 budget proposal.
He stated: “We’re not by any stretch of imagination suggesting that the draft budget is beyond comments or reproach. Nor do we wish to dwell on this simply to make a point. To do that will drive away good citizens from pointing out needed corrections and, ultimately defeating the change mantra of the administration. The budget is a Nigerian budget and citizens reserve the right to examine its content and provide their own perspectives.
“As the draft goes through the approval process, this and many other aspects will continue to generate interest, criticism, commendation and sometimes condemnation in discussions in the parliament, the media and the court of public opinion.
“We believe that the process of ‘change’ will be affected by, and stands to gain from these debates especially where there is good faith on all sides. Government has no reason whatsoever to mislead the citizens on the budget and on all other matters for whatever reason”.