House of Reps. passes budget for second reading

House Of RepsThe House of Representatives on Tuesday approved $47 as the crude oil benchmark price for the 2018 budget.

The Executive proposal was $45, while the approved benchmark for the 2017 budget was $44.

Members made the approval as they considered a report on the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper in Abuja.

At the same session, which was presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, lawmakers also concluded debate on the general principles of the budget and passed it for second reading.

By the requirements of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, the National Assembly must first approve the MTEF before passing the next budget.

Tuesday’s approval was handy to avoid a breach of the law and also allowed the lawmakers the opportunity to look at the details of the budget before its third reading in the weeks ahead.

The House offered reasons for approving $47 as the benchmark price, stating, “This is in consideration of the current positive outlook in the global oil market and the expectation that OPEC and other allied oil partnership countries will sustain oil production cuts deep into 2018.”

For the oil production output, the House retained the Executive’s proposal of 2.3 million barrels per day.

Similarly, the N305 exchange rate to the dollar proposed by the Executive for the 2018 budget was adopted.

The House resolution read in part, “It is also advised that the Central Bank of Nigeria should adopt measures to close the gap between the parallel market and the official exchange rates.

“That the projected 5.279tn for non-oil revenue in 2018 be adopted. In addition, revenue generating agencies should intensify efforts on collection and measures that would reduce revenue loss. Specifically, pioneer status and tax incentives must be beneficial to the economy.

“That 1.699tn new borrowing for 2018 as proposed by the Executive be adopted. However, borrowing must be project-tied. In borrowing more, government must remain focused and ensure it is used to fund critical projects that will increase productivity and contribute to financing such debt.”

It added, “That the National Assembly should amend the relevant sections of the Fiscal Responsibility Act and other extant laws.

“That a 3.5 per cent growth rate be adopted, especially with the latest figures indicating a doubling of the growth rate to 1.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2017.”

Meanwhile, the House took a two-week break from plenary on Tuesday to reconvene on December 19.

The break period will be used to carry out performance assessments on the 2017 budget and to open defence sessions on the 2018 budget proposal.


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