Adopts N1.64 trillion as new borrowing to fund deficit
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate yesterday approved the 2019-2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), of the federal government six months after it was sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari in November last year.
The upper legislative chamber also yesterday directed its Appropriations Committee to ensure that the 2019 budget report is laid before it tomorrow.
The approval of the MTEF and FSP by the Senate was sequel to the presentation of the 18-page report of the Committee on Finance by the committee Chairman, Senator John Enoh (Cross River Central), which considered the president’s request.
While adopting N1.64 trillion borrowing to fund the budget deficit, the Senate, however, advised relevant government agencies to continue exploring ways of generating additional revenues for government to bring down the fiscal deficit.
“Also, the federal government should harness the full optimal potential of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in terms of revenue generation to minimise the level of new borrowing,” the committee added.
The upper legislative chamber approved all the critical projections in the MTEF/FSP as proposed by the executive arm of the government.
The MTEF/FSP, a three-year rolling expenditure plan, spells out the medium-term expenditure priorities and provides the basis for the preparation of the annual national budget.
The Senate retained the oil output of 2.3 million barrel per day oil price benchmark of $60 per barrel; an exchange rate of N305/$1; GDP Growth rate of three per cent; and inflation growth rate of 9.98 per cent.
Other provisions of the MTEF and FSP approved by the Senate include: proposed expenditure of N8.83 trillion; FGN retained revenue of N7.92 trillion; fiscal deficit of N1.86 trillion; statutory transfers of N492.4 billion; debt service N2.14 trillion; Sinking Fund of N120 billion; total recurrent (non-debt) N4.72 trillion; personnel costs (MDAs) N2.29 trillion; capital expenditure of N2.86 trillion; Special Intervention of N500 billion, among others.
Earlier in his presentation, Enoh admitted that crude oil production output stood at two million barrels as of December 2018, and explained that the 2.3million daily target was achievable “due to the continuous efforts of all stakeholders in checkmating the issues of oil facilities vandalism and other vices associated with such regard”.
While recommending an exchange rate of N305/$1, the committee encouraged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) “to continue adopting strategies that will aid the strengthening of the naira and bridging the gap between the official and parallel market rate of the foreign exchange”.
Senate to Receive 2019 Budget Report Thursday
Meanwhile, the Senate also yesterday directed its Appropriations Committee headed by Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central) to submit the 2019 budget report by tomorrow.
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, gave the directive after the submission of the Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Sunny Ogbuoji (Ebonyi South) who disclosed that only 24 out of 61 sub-committees had submitted their reports as at yesterday.
Ogbuoji said: “We are still having some challenges with the subcommittees on Appropriation because out of the 61 committees that we have, only about 24 committees have submitted their reports. And we are not able to go ahead and write the Appropriations report unless we get further directive from here. Our request would have been that we be allowed to now prepare this report even on behalf of the committees that have not submitted their reports.”
Saraki, thereafter, insisted that the budget report must be presented on Thursday ahead of the April 16 approval of the budget.
According to him, the Appropriations panel will be forced to use Executive submissions if the sub-committees fail to submit their reports to the Appropriations Committee by today.
He said: “It is unfortunate that only 24 committees have submitted their reports. Last week, we all took a decision here that we are not going to waiver on our position. Our position is very clear: that all committees should submit (their budget reports). And those that don’t submit, then the Appropriations Committee should use the Executive submission.
“That position is still where we are. And I want to appeal to all our committees that you really have just till tomorrow (Wednesday) to make sure that your reports get to the Appropriations Committee because Thursday, you must lay this report.
“Vice Chairman of Appropriations Committee, if you don’t get report from our committees by tomorrow (Wednesday), then you just use the submission of the Executive. But come Thursday, you must lay that report.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had on December 19, 2018 submitted a N8.83 trillion budget proposal for 2019 to a joint session of the National Assembly on December 19, 2018.
Senate Confirms Tarfa as North-East Development Commission Chairman
Meanwhile, the upper legislative chamber yesterday confirmed the nomination of former military governor of Oyo State, Major-General of Paul Tarfa (rtd), as Chairman of the North-East Development Commission (NEDC).
Also confirmed are 10 other nominees of the president as members of the governing board of the commission.
Their confirmation followed the consideration of the report of the Senator Abdulaziz Nyako-led Committee on Special Duties that screened the nominees by the Committee of the Whole.
The confirmed NEDC board members include Mohammed Alkali, MD/CEO; Musa Yashi, ED, Humanitarian Services; Muhammed Jawa, ED, Admin and Finance; Omar Mohammed, ED, Operation; and Mr Obasuke Mcdonald (South-south).
Others are Asmau Mohammed (North-west), Hon David Kente (North-east), Hon. Benjamin Adanyi (North-central), Hon. Olawale Oshun (South-west) and Dr. T. Ekechi (South-east).