22 January 2017, Abuja — The National Assembly has passed the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) for 2017 – 2019 and approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s borrowing plan of N2.3 trillion.
The passage of the fiscal document came three months after President Buhari’s letter on it was read on the floor. The letter was read on October 4 last year.
The document was passed following approval of the report of the joint committees on Finance, Appropriations and National Planning. The report was presented by the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator John Enoh (PDP, Cross River).
Approving the domestic and foreign debts of N2.321trillion (domestic, N1.253trillion and foreign N1.067trillion) proposal of the executive, the lawmakers insisted that the borrowings should be on a project-tied basis.
“In borrowing more, the government must remain focused and ensure it is used to fund critical projects that will increase productivity and also contribute to financing such debt,” the Senate said.
Both chambers of the National Assembly also raised the $42.5 crude oil benchmark proposed by the executive to $44.5 dollars per barrel.
Of all the projections for the 2017 budget, only the crude oil benchmark was adjusted by the Legislature. The remaining projections were approved without alterations.
In raising the crude oil benchmark, the Senate said the benchmark was increased in view of the present price of the commodity in the international market.
On oil production, the Senate approved the 2.2 million barrels per day proposal of the executive.
The Senate said though the oil production target of 2.2 mbpd was achievable, it is dependent on the ability of the Federal government to curtail the Niger-Delta militant activities.
For exchange rate, the National Assembly approved the N305 as against the N290 earlier submitted in the document by the executive, noting that the fixed exchange rate regime as implemented in Nigeria was no longer useful.
The Senate while commending the adoption of flexible exchange regime by the executive, urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to initiate measures that would close the gap between the parallel market and the official exchange rate.
On non-oil revenue projection, the Upper Chamber approved the N5.122trillion proposal of the executive in 2017.
“In addition, revenue generating agencies should intensify their revenue collections drive in order to boost the non- oil component of the revenue,” it said.
The Senate also approved the N807.57 billion for Federal government independent revenue for 2017 and recommended the review of the legal framework of relevant MDAs and government owned enterprises.
In his remark, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who presided over the plenary said the passage of the document would enable them commence the consideration of the 2017 budget next week.
He urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to devise means to address the huge gap in exchange rate between the parallel and official markets.
The House of Representatives, while adopting the report of joint committee led by the finance committee chairman, Rep Ibrahim Babangida Mahuta (APC, Katsina), approved a similar report with the Senate.
On its part, the House said government should implement self-sufficiency and become an exporter of certain agricultural and mining products as well as increase local production of maize, soya, poultry and livestock.
The House also resolved to constantly oversee relevant agencies on the implementation of all government programmes to ensure effective and result-oriented targets.
* Ismail Mudashir and Musa Abdullahi Krishi – Daily Trust