National Assembly approves $47 per barrel oil benchmark for 2018 budget - BUSINESSDAY
The National Assembly on Tuesday finally approved a $47 per barrel oil benchmark price for the 2018 budget, even as the appropriation bill has passed Second Reading in the Senate.
This followed the passage of the revised version of the 2018 – 2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) at Tuesday plenary.
The development comes as the Senate has passed the 2018 Appropriation Bill for Second Reading.
Senate President Bukola Saraki who presided over the session, referred the budget to the Committee on Appropriations and its various sub-committees for further consideration.
The Senate also adjourned plenary to December 19, 2017, to allow standing committees to hold budget defence sessions for federal ministries, departments and agencies.
While the upper legislative chamber retained critical projections of the N8.612 trillion 2018 budget estimates, it however, increased oil benchmark price to $47 per barrel, as against $45 per barrel proposed by the Executive.
Other key assumptions in the MTEF/FSP retained include oil output of 2.3 million barrels per day, exchange rate of N305 to a United States dollar and GDP Growth Rate of 3.5 percent.
The adoption of the MTEF/FSP, which provides the parameters upon which the national budget is prepared, followed the report of the joint committees presented by Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi State), a member of the panel.
Consideration of MTEF/FSP was postponed till this week following a meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, Austria.
The oil cartel later asked Nigeria not to produce above 1.8 million barrels per day (1.8mbpd) of crude oil.
Nigeria presently produces about 1.75mbpd of crude oil. The oil cap is aimed at stabilising the price of the commodity at the global market.
The country plans a budget of N8.6 trillion for the 2018 fiscal year.
Explaining how the joint committee arrived at $47 per barrel for oil benchmark price for the 2018 fiscal year, Abdullahi said: “This is in consideration of the current positive outlook in the global oil market and expectation that OPEC and other allied oil partnership countries will sustain oil production ‘cuts deep’ into 2018.”
He called on relevant committees of the National Assembly to constantly provide oversight on ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) on the implementation of the budget to ensure “effective, widespread and representative targeting of beneficiaries.”
The committee also adopted N5.279 trillion for non-oil revenue as well as N1.699 trillion as new borrowing plan.
“The projected N5.279 trillion for non-oil revenue in 2018 is adopted. In addition, revenue generating agencies should intensify efforts on collections and measures that would reduce revenue loss. Specifically, Pioneer status and Tax incentives must be beneficial to the economy.
“That N1.699 trillion in new borrowing for 2018 as proposed by the Executive is adopted. However, borrowing must be project-tied. In borrowing more, government must remain focused and ensure it is used to fund critical projects that will increase productivity and contribute to financing such debt,” Abdullahi said.
Speaking on the passage of the Second Reading of the budget, Saraki said: “We know that the timetable is very tight. We will be suspending plenary for us to be able to start the defence of this budget. Committee Chairmen and Members should please ensure that we keep to this timetable.
“Let me respond with a general note of warning to all Heads of MDAs to ensure that they strictly respect the letters of invitation and the timetable. This is not time for excuses for Ministers or Heads of parastatals to be traveling and not be able to attend their budget defence.
“We do not have the time. This is a very short timeframe, therefore, I expect all MDAs to be able to respect our invitation and be there on time so that the Committees can wrap up and be able to present their reports by the time we come back on Tuesday, the 19th of December,” he said.
The President of the Senate also proposed that the Senate will be having a public hearing on the budget by December 11, 2017.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA & OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja