Senate President, David Mark
President Goodluck Jonathan Wednesday in Abuja forwarded the 2013-2015 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper to the Senate, with a pledge that the 2013 budget will continue with his administration’s fiscal consolidation programme.
The Federal Government, in the paper, disclosed that following its initiatives and in line with the trend since 2011, the share of recurrent spending in aggregate expenditure is set to further reduce from 71.47 per cent in 2012 to 68.7 per cent in 2013 while capital expenditure as a share of aggregate spending is set to increase from 28.53 per cent in 2012 to 31.3 per cent in 2013.
In line with the policy of consolidation, the fiscal deficit is also expected to continue on a decline from 2.85 per cent of GDP in 2012 to 2.17 per cent of GDP in 2013.
According to the president, the federal government will sustain its efforts to increase revenue as well as that of capital spending in total expenditure, and reduce the fiscal deficit and the corresponding borrowing requirement to a more sustainable level.
He noted that in the light of the huge amount paid on petroleum subsidy in 2011, the government would streamline the management of the subsidy scheme through the strengthening of the audit and verification process, adding that these would yield results in 2013, just as the SURE-P instrument will continue to be used as an intervention window to mitigate the impact of the partial subsidy removal.
Also, under the framework, a cautious oil benchmark price of $ 75 per barrel was arrived at for the 2013-2015 period while oil production of 2.53 mbpd, 2.61 mbpd and 2.65 mbpd will be adopted for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 fiscal years, respectively.
According to the document, “This is below the current world market price and is underpinned by our model of 10-year and 5-year moving averages, with some adjustments.
“Revenue in excess of the benchmark price will continue to be set aside in the Excess Crude Account, ECA/Sovereign Wealth Fund, SWF. The fund has been designed to reduce pro-cyclicality and delink public expenditure from oil price volatility.”
The Federal Government, in the paper, also plans to increase the contribution of tax revenue to the budget through continuous reforms to modernise and further improve tax administration.
It will also focus on security, agriculture, power, water resources, health, education, works, transport, aviation, Federal Capital Territory and the Niger Delta, just as it intends to reduce the infrastructure gap, thereby energising the economy as a way of creating employment and to ensure inclusive growth.
“Although the aggregate expenditure is increasing in absolute terms, the goal is for government expenditure as a share of GDP in the Nigerian economy to reduce in the medium to long term. This is in line with the desire to promote the private sector.
“The reduction in the size of government will be achieved through stricter rationalisation of available resources including sustaining the reduction of overhead votes.
“The figure for overheads decreased from N536 billion in 2010 to N266 billion in 2012. It is expected to further decrease in 2013 to N230 billion or 4.67 percent of total expenditure,” the MTEF read in part.
The submission of the MTEF, notwithstanding, the Senate President yesterday urged the executive to present the 2013 budget estimates early enough to give the legislature sufficient time to debate the budget exhaustively preparatory to its passage before the end of the year.
Mark, who pledged that the Senate would discharge with a deep sense of responsibility, its constitutional obligation to serve as a check on other arms of government, said the focus of the legislature in the new year would include the budget, constitution review and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
The Senate President, in a speech on the resumption of the Senate from its eight-week recess, said: “Our goal would be to pass the budget before the end of the year. When passed and signed into law, we will insist on full implementation.”
In a bid to forestall delay in the presentation and passage into law of the budget, the executive arm had last month approved the 2013 fiscal framework with projected revenue put at N3.891 trillion and expenditure at N4.929 trillion.
Mark said previous budgets had only raised hopes for better life, which remained largely unrealised.
He said: “This is not surprising because there is a definite correlation between the parlous state we observe in several critical sectors of our national life and the haphazard and inconsistent implementation of the budgets.”
He said the Senate would activate and deploy its weapon of oversight to monitor meticulously the implementation of the budget.
He also unfolded the top priorities of the current legislative agenda to include consideration of committee reports on the implementation of the 2012 budget, the 2013 budget estimates, the PIB, the amendment to the 1999 Constitution and the review of the Anti-terrorism Act, in the light of the country’s current experience.
Mark said senators had used the recess to consult their constituents and the conditions under which they live has rekindled the lawmakers’ resolve to ensure that their living conditions improved substantially as a reward for their faith in democracy.
“The war against poverty must therefore be an unrelenting one. Its ultimate objective should be total eradication of poverty, and not just poverty reduction. A nation as blessed as ours has no business with poverty,” he added.
On the review of the 1999 Constitution, he said the Senate would continue to foster constructive discourse of the national question, adding that this could only be done in adherence to legal procedures.
“I urge anyone disenchanted with the Nigerian nation to join the ongoing national discourse that will lead to the amendment to the constitution,” he said, adding that majority of Nigerians prefer to live in a united, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria than a dismembered nation.
According to him, the people will prefer to be governed in accordance with democratic norms in a diverse federation made viable and dynamic by the rule of law.
He attributed the poor performance of Nigerian contingent at the last Olympics to corruption, sloppiness and tardiness in preparations and mismanagement.
He, however, commended the gallant performance of the nation’s contingent to the Paralympics, whose exploits, he said, had buoyed the country’s national spirit.