2020 budget: Reps target $60 oil benchmark, review fuel subsidy expenditure

2 months ago 33

The leadership of the House of Representatives on Thursday affirmed its position for upward review of the proposed oil benchmark from $56 per barrel to $60 per barrel in the 2020 fiscal year.

Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, who conveyed the House position in Abuja, during the post weekly legislative briefing, also unveiled plans to review the fuel subsidy expenditure being implemented unilaterally by the Executive without appropriation.

According to him, “findings by the committee which would occupy front burners as we resume, one of which was data not coherent between the agencies like Customs, PPPRA, NNPC and all the rest of them especially on issues like, what is exactly the amount of crude oil produced per day, what is the level of our PMS consumption per day.

“These things are necessary because there is a determination by the House to close up areas of leakages of funds so that the Federal Government would have enough to take care of the welfare of citizens.”

While expressing grave concern over the poor level of revenue remittance by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), he assured that plans are underway to review the establishment Acts, with a view to blocking leakages, adding that many agencies are merely recycling budgets, while some agencies are using their internally generated revenue in flagrant disregard to the provisions of the Constitution.

“We have also observed that some MDAs were not remitting sufficiently to the Federation Account, they were under-remitting and there were agencies that were not remitting at all because their establishment Acts do not give them the permission to remit.

“We need to amend some of those establishment acts, because of the impact of COVID, the government is looking for money from left, right and centre and if there are leakages that have been encouraged by the Establishment Acts, that piece of legislation will be looked into for possible amendment.

“It is also important to note that what was seen as the aggregate revenue available for 2022 was the sum of 7.26 trillion and about N3.16 trillion will be coming from oil-related sources.

“The expenditure framework is at N13.9 trillion, capital expenditure accounts for only 26 percent. That worries me because of the continued provision for subsidy which is a drain to this government. The House believes that the capital expenditure should be increased from what it is to what it ought to be. Insufficient remittances to the federation account because of the effect of COVID, the government is looking for money from everywhere.

“One of the issues on the front burner of the National Assembly is to review the elements around the oil subsidy for the sake of closing up the gaps for leakages in this country,” he assured.

In response to questions bothering on the huge fiscal deficit incurred by the country so far and the new borrowing plans proposed by the present administration, the House spokesman assured that the House will approve the projected new borrowing only when the details of where the borrowing is provided.

While giving an update on the ongoing legislative scrutiny of the Electoral Bill, 2021, Hon. Kalu disclosed that National Assembly will announce the Conference Committee on Electoral Act, to transmit the bill before December for Presidential assent.

“We are committed to constitution review, we urged Nigerians to believe us and we are determined to close those gaps.

“We are assuring Nigerians not to be worried, in the cause of managing legislative proceedings, there is a procedure, which is Conference Committee.

“Many have observed that clause 58 (2) in the House of Representatives and 58 (3) in the Senate have a little variation, but we are telling Nigerians not to worry, when there are issues, the committee will seat and cross the ‘I’s. The National Assembly is busy nominating the member which will be announced in no distant time. We want to assure Nigerians, that before the Xmas holiday, the electoral bill will be forwarded to Mr President, we know we cannot enter the 2023 election season without having this particular legal framework.

“We ask the Finance Committee to stay back during the holidays. The committee sat to look at the various assumptions ad parameters of the MTEF, in the cause of doing that a lot of analysis took place and some findings were made, some we are in tandem with, some we need some clarification.

“It was discovered that the MTEF relied on the forecast of the World Bank. The price of crude oil would be at an average of $60 per barrel, another assumption was that the production of our oil is going to be at 1.88 million barrels per day and that foreign exchange was going at N410.15 for 2022/2023/2024,” he said.

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