TStv Africa

TStv Africa
 

WHEN President Muhammadu Buhari, on November 7, 2017, presented before a joint session of the National Assembly, a budget proposal of N8.612 trillion for the 2018 fiscal year, which represented 16 percent increase of N7.298 trillion over the 2017 Budget, the Executive arm of government could not have envisaged controversy the document is currently generating. Buhari, who tagged the 2018 Budget as that of Consolidation, said it will help to actualize the economic growth recovery plan of the administration. He explained that fiscal operations are expected to result in a deficit of N2.005 trillion or 1.77 percent of GDP, saying the situation was in line with government’s plans under the ERGP to progressively reduce deficit and borrowings. Of the N8.6 trillion budget, N456 billion is for Statutory Transfer, N2 trillion for Debt Service, N3 trillion for Recurrent-Non-Debt Expenditure, while N2 trillion is for for Capital Expenditure. Problem with the budget started with the presentation of the 2018-2020 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, and Fiscal Strategy Paper, FSP, to the Senate. The submission of the MTEF usually precedes the presentation of the budget to the National Assembly. The Senate, on December 8, passed the MTEF/ FSP and set December 19 for the Senate Committee on Appropriations to submit the report of 2018 Appropriation for deliberation and passage. The senators, in the MTEF documents passed, raised the oil benchmark for the 2018 Budget from the $45 per barrel as proposed by the Federal Government to $47  while daily production was retained at 2.3 million barrel per day, with exchange rate also retained at N305 to $1 . The $47 per barrel approved by the Senate as oil price bench mark was a dollar higher than the $46 recommended by its joint committee on Finance, Appropriations and National Planning that worked on the MTEF document. The parameters are 2.3million barrel oil production per day , N305 to a US dollar exchange rate, 3.5% GDP growth rate, N5.79trillion projected non oil revenue, N1.699trillion for new borrowings, etc. The controversy surrounding the 2018 Budget, however, reared their heads from the day debate on the general principles started, just as it was discovered during budget defence by Ministries, Departments, Agencies, MDAs, were not having documents, while some had alleged padding and duplicated items. When the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, appeared before the Senator John Enoh-led Committee on Finance, it queried the Federal Government on its insistence that the 2018 Budget must be passed in January when less than 50 percent    of 2017 Budget implemented.

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