o9 December 2015, News Wires – Despite the Federal Government’s using a crude oil price benchmark of N38 for its 2016 proposed budget, an economic crisis looms. This is because by yesterday, the oil price continued to plummet, falling below $37 per barrel and international Brent crashing to below $40 for the first time since early 2009. The prices may fall further.
Besides, about N500 billion has been earmarked for social welfare intervention programmes in next year’s fiscal plan. Potential beneficiaries of the welfare programme, however, would have to present evidence of children’s enrolment in school and of immunisation.
Already, global stock markets fell sharply yesterday as oil prices remained significantly low as the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to leave production unchanged.
Economic experts, who spoke with The Guardian yesterday, believed that the government had come to terms with the reality of the plummeting crude oil prices and had decided to align with its resources in the 2016 budget proposal.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Director, Centre for Petroleum Energy Economics and Law, University of Ibadan, Prof. Adeola Adenikinju, said that the $38 per barrel was realistic, describing it as a conservative approach by the government.
According to him: “It will encourage the government to cut its coat according to its cloth. However, if the government experiences an upside in the global price of oil, then it can always submit a supplementary appropriation bill to the National Assembly.”
The Managing Director of AMCON, Ahmed Kuru, who noted that it had about N5.6 trillion debt to honour in the next 10 years, said falling oil prices reduced government’s ability to meet its own commitment.
“The price of crude oil below $40 per barrel impacts the government’s ability to honor its obligations to those that are owing us. The impairment of oil assets we took over is another problem. Real-estate assets are challenged as the economy is going down.
“To dispose them is a big challenge and disposing them at the prices we got them is also another challenge. Some of those assets were revalued and revaluation is most times based on discretion”, Kuru said.
Transmitting the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed that “the Federal Government will collaborate with state governments to institute well-structured social welfare intervention programmes such as: school feeding programme initiatives, conditional cash transfer to the most vulnerable, and post-NYSC grant.”
In the MTEF /FSP document which was presented to senators at the commencement of session yesterday, the president said:”N500 billion has been provided in 2016 Budget as social investments for these programmes. These interventions will start as a pilot scheme and work towards securing the support donor agencies and our development partners in order to minimise potential risks.”
The document further stated:”A phased social welfare programme will be created to cater for a larger population of the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians upon the evidence of children’s enrolment in school and evidence of immunisation”
- The Guardian