Senate approves Buhari’s fiscal plans it once rejected as ’empty’

The Senate has approved the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the Fiscal Strategy Paper, MTEF/FSP, submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari last December, in readiness for the consideration of the 2017 budget.

The Senate on Wednesday adopted almost all the proposals sent by the president, contradicting its earlier ruling in December, when it dismissed the documents as “empty”.

Its decision followed the recommendations of its committees on Appropriations, Finance and National Planning,

It adopted the oil production projection of 2.2 mbpd for the 2017 Budget, which it said is achievable, “though dependent on the ability of the Federal Government to curtail the Niger-Delta militant activities in order to halt the drop in crude oil production”.

Following attacks of oil and gas installations, the Senate observed that oil production “declined from 1,912mbpd in January 2016 to 1,818mbpd in June 2016 and thereafter to 1,721mbpd in October 2016.”

It also adopted the exchange rate of N305/1USD as proposed by the executive.

The Senate however warned that the Central Bank of Nigeria should initiate measures that would close the gap between the parallel market and the official exchange rate to prevent corruption.

For non-oil revenue, the Senate also adopted the projected N5.122 trillion in 2017, lower than N5.749 trillion approved in 2016 on account of lower Corporate Tax, VAT and Customs revenue collection in 2016.

Similarly, it approved the N807.57 trillion projected as independent revenue for 2017, significantly lower than the highly optimistic N1.505 approved for 2016.

The reduction, the Senate said, reflected the poor level of collection and remittance or inefficiency in the collection and management of independent revenue by MDAs and state-owned enterprises.

The planned borrowing of N2.321 trillion, comprising N1.253 trillion (domestic) and N1.067 trillion (external) in 2017 was also approved, however on project-tied basis.

The Senate also approved the N500 billion (N350 billion, recurrent; N150 billion, capital) for Special Intervention Programme in 2017.

However, the lawmakers slightly increased the benchmark price for crude oil in 2017 to USD44.5 from USD442.5 per barrel.

Projected GDP growth rate and inflation growth rate stand at 2.50% and 12.92% respectively.

The Senate recommended that the government should implement “drastic measures to achieve self-sufficiency and become exporter of certain agricultural and mining products.”

In his remarks after the passage, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided in place of Bukola Saraki who was in court for his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, sought the cooperation of the executive bodies when consideration of the 2017 budget commences to ensure expeditious passage.


Source: Premium Times

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