Senate certifies FG’s mid-term expenditure framework, police fund bill

The Senate yesterday passed the 2019-2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) of the Federal Government prior to the passage of the N8.83 trillion 2019 budget.

Adopting the report of its Finance Committee during plenary, the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly approved all the critical assumptions and projections proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari in the document.

The three year-expenditure planning sets out the medium-term expenditure priorities and provides the basis for the preparation of the yearly national budget.

In passing the document, the lawmakers sanctioned 2.3 mbpd crude oil; a benchmark of $60 per barrel; exchange rate of N305/to the dollar as well as a GDP growth rate of three per cent and an inflation rate of 9.98 per cent.

Also approved are total federally collectable revenue of N14.89 trillion; net oil and revenue after costs, deductions and derivations amounting to N7.60 trillion; net non-oil revenue after costs, deductions and derivation of N2.38 trillion and Federal Government-retained revenue of N7. 92 trillion.

Others are proposed expenditure of N8.83 trillion; fiscal deficit of N1.86 trillion; new borrowings to the tune of N1.65 trillion; statutory transfers of N492.4 billion; N2.14 trillion for debt servicing while Sinking Fund got N120 billion.

The rest were total recurrent (non-debt), N4.72trillion; personnel costs (MDAs), N2.29 trillion; capital expenditure, N2.86 trillion; and special intervention of N500 billion.

Although the committee chairman, John Enoh, admitted that crude oil production was two million barrels daily as at December 2018, he, however, enthused that the 2.3mbpd target was achievable “due to the continued efforts of all stakeholders in checkmating the issues of oil facilities’ vandalism related vices.”

While recommending an exchange rate of N305/$1, the panel encouraged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) “to continue adopting strategies that will aid the strengthening of the naira and bridging of the gap between the official and parallel market rates.”

The president on November 6, 2018 sent the document to the legislature for approval.

Meanwhile, the chamber has given its appropriations committee till tomorrow to submit the 2019 budget report.

Speaking after the vice chairman of the panel, Sunny Ogbuoji (APC, Ebonyi), told the legislators that only 24 of the 61 sub-committees had submitted their reports, Senate President Bukola Saraki insisted that the report must be presented tomorrow ahead of the approval of the money bill on April 16.

Besides, the lawmakers passed the Nigerian Police Trust Fund Bill to provide a legal framework for the management and control of the special intervention money for the training of personnel of the force.

The piece of the legislation, which is awaiting transmission to the president for assent, also provides for procurement of operational equipment, instructional materials, maintenance of the stations and quarters the officers inhabit.

Also yesterday, the red chamber expressed concerns over what it called the “inefficient and failing audit system” in the country.

Chairman of its Committee on Public Accounts, Mathew Urhoghide, lamented that the weak audit regime, particularly the alleged withholding of reports by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, was undermining the anti-corruption war of the current administration.

He said his committee had not received the audit report for 2016.

(The Guardian)