05 November 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja — The National Assembly is seeking to provide legal backing to the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to enable the country save revenue windfalls and stabilise government expenditure during the financial crisis.
This is part of the recommendations by a technical committee set up by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki in July to examine the budget reform process in Nigeria.
The panel, chaired by Senate Leader Ali Ndume (APC, Borno), while presenting its report on the floor of the upper chamber, also recommended an amendment to the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) to mandate all government agencies to deposit at least 25 percent of their revenue into the federation’s account instead of the 80 percent of their operating surplus.
The panel further sought an amendment to the constitution that will compel the president to present budget to the National Assembly by the first week of September, considered and passed by the legislature by November 30 and signed by the president by the second week of December.
The Federal Government, in a bid to attain robust external reserves, has said it is planning to increase the amount in the Excess Crude Account from the current balance of $2.25bn to $3.95bn next year.
It is also targeting fresh private sector investment of $1.5bn (N315.2bn) in infrastructure within the 2016 fiscal period.
These figures are contained in the Medium Term Plan 2016-20120 prepared by the National Planning Commission and submitted to Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government for validation.
The monetary estimates for the 2016 budget are still being worked out by the respective MDAs and may be ready by mid-November, according to the timeline stipulated in the document.
In the document, which was obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Monday, the government said it would be focussing on six policy thrusts aimed at stimulating growth and reducing the level of poverty in the economy.
The policy thrusts are economic, social development, infrastructure, governance, environment, state and regional development.
The government, according to the document, is also planning to increase the contribution of some key sectors of the economy in a bid to create jobs and reduce the level of poverty in the country.
In this regard, the objectives of the government from next year will be to increase the contribution of steel, mining, industrial and manufacturing sectors to the Gross Domestic Product from the current 10.1 per cent to 11.8 per cent.
In the oil and gas sector, the document stated that the focus would be to increase exploration and production using new innovative and environment-friendly methods.
“The policy thrust in the oil and gas sector is to increase local refining capacity to serve both domestic and regional markets from 25.95 per cent to 85 per cent,” it stated.