2018 Budget: NEC Begins Consideration of 2018-2020 MTEF

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  •  Seeks 50% of FG’s share in of ecological fund during emergencies

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

In line with federal government and National Assembly’s recent resolution to return Nigeria to January – December budget cycle, the National Executive Council (NEC) thursday began consideration of factors that will influence the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).

MTEF and FSP is a compendium of government’s financial projections for the next three fiscal years in the medium term. Components of the document usually include: exchange rate, inflation rate, oil benchmark, revenue target, review of previous year’s expenditure and revenue performance as well as global economic outlook.

At its monthly meeting in the Presidential Villa yesterday, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, briefed NEC on the need to return the budget cycle to the January – December calendar year, submitting that the 2018 – 2020 MTEF would be anchored on the recently launched Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

Highlighting factors that will influence projections in the proposed document, Udoma said the current global economic outlook shows that the country is expecting growth even though there are some challenges that may negatively impede the expected growth between 2018 and 2020.

Furthermore, he listed factors such as policy changes in the United States, Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), climate change, oil price fluctuations as some of the uncertainties confronting global economy but assured that despite downward slide in oil prices, Nigeria is already coming out of recession.

Udoma who also said the non-oil sector was growing, disclosed that recoveries were being witnessed in some sectors of the economy including manufacturing, agriculture and services adding that efforts made to achieve peace in the Niger Delta was producing results. He added that key objectives and execution priorities of the ERGP would return the country to the path of growth.

In his own presentation, the governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasiru el-Rufai, said the Committee on Ecological Fund chaired by him, submitted its final report to the council with recommendations which among others, stated that henceforth, 50 per cent of federal government’s share of the ecological fund or N20 billion must be reserved for emergencies based on the president’s discretion.

He said the committee also recommended that the monitoring and evaluation strategies must be built into the application of ecological fund to serve as a roadmap for measuring performance of the fund adding that a team that will review the reports of the disbursement of the fund must be put in place.

Other recommendations as highlighted by the governor included the publicity of ecological disaster with a view to creating awareness and consciousness in the citizenry to avoid a future occurrence of a particular disaster.
He also harped on the committee’s recommendation that disbursement of funds must be dictated by certain criteria such as visitation by the Ecological Office to the affected area for on the spot assessment; verification of ecological disaster, technical evaluation of the disaster by experts, community involvement, evidence of advocacy, evidence of existing prompt and existence of emergency response mechanism before the disaster.

In her briefing, the Minister of State for Budget and National, Zainab Ahmed, said the Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMS) she chaired to monitor the implementation of 71 resolutions reached in the last NEC retreat, observed challenges of rural banking and hence, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and participant banks should be tasked to find innovative, efficient and sustainable means of handling bank verification numbers (BVN) registration and other non-traditional banking services for the informal groups as part of their financial inclusion strategies.

Following the presentation of a memo to the council by the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, on need for harmonisation of “the right of way charges” on telecommunications and related public utility infrastructure on local governments, states and federal highways, the council mandated the minister to liaise with states and relevant stakeholders for smooth implementation of the right of way, noting that the tiers of government currently charge different rates.

Finally, the council was briefed by Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, on balances in different federation accounts as at 19th July, 2017.

Such balances as presented are Excess Crude Account (ECA), $2.303 billion; Ecological Fund Account , N27.466 billion; Stabilisation account, N2.553 billion; Development of Natural Resources Account, N77.922 billion