NASS To Address 2018 Budget Concerns

The Senate says it has delegated its Chairman Committee on Appropriation, Sen. Danjuma Goje to hold a media briefing to clarify concerns raised by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 2018 Budget.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Sen. Aliyu Abdullahi made this known in a statement.

President Buhari in his speech while signing the 2018 budget on Wednesday, had raised concern about some changes made to the budget by the National Assembly.

Sen. Abdullahi said the senate was in agreement with the statement issued by the House of Representatives, in response to the issues raised by Buhari on the budget.

He said, the leadership of both chambers have directed the chairmen of our committees on appropriations to provide detailed explanations on all points raised by the President for the benefit of members of the public.

President Buhari had in his speech said, “the logic behind the Constitutional direction that budgets should be proposed by the Executive is that, it is the Executive that knows and defines its policies and projects.

He also said, “the take-off Grant for the Maritime University in Delta State, a key strategic initiative of the Federal Government, was cut from 5 billion Naira to 3.4 billion Naira.

“About seventy new road projects have been inserted into the budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. In doing so, the National Assembly applied some of the additional funds expected from the upward review of the oil price benchmark to the Ministry’s vote.

“in order to make provision for some of the new roads, the amounts allocated to some strategic major roads have been cut by the National Assembly.

“Another area of concern is the increase by the National Assembly of the provisions for Statutory Transfers by an aggregate of 73.96 billion Naira.

“Most of these increases are for recurrent expenditure at a time we are trying to keep down the cost of governance.

“An example of this increase is the budget of the National Assembly itself which has increased by 14.5 billion Naira, from 125 billion Naira to 139.5 billion Naira without any discussion with the Executive.”

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Farmers Decries Delay In Passage Of 2018 Budget

Dr Edwin Uche, President, Maize Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (MAGPAMAN), says the delay in the passage of the 2018 budget has affected maize cultivation in the country.

Uche said this in a telephone interview with News men, in Abuja.

“The budget delay is affecting the agriculture sector because of the palliatives, fertilizers and inputs to support maize farmers are embedded in the budget.

“Goodwill and incentives, either from state government or well-wishers, are helpful to maize farmers but if the budget is not passed, this tends to affect the goodwill,’’ he said.

He stressed that the cultivation of maize was time-bound and the time requirements for the crop growing must be strictly adhered to in order to achieve food sufficiency in the country.

“The timely implementation of every set programme of the Federal Government should be prioritised by the handlers of the budget.

“Most of the time, we have programme designs but we are often comfortable with a situation where the implementation process tends not to affect the time of cultivation.

“Once the cultivation timetable is punctured or we have a problem with implementing the programme based on the environmental or natural timetable, it affects the yields and outputs.

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How Lagos Plans To Fund N1tr Budget By 2019

Lagos, the commercial nerve centre of West Africa and Nigeria’s economic capital says it will ascertain its annual budget hits N1 Trillion (about $2.5billion) come 2019.

To achieve this feat the state government says it will push up its monthly internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to N30billion every month from 2017 and N50billion a year later.

With enhanced revenue, the state says it will immediately commence the upgrade of schools located in slum communities .

Other areas where the state council says it will better the lots of its residents  are investments in Tourism and hospitality sectors for job creation, transport and health among others.

These are contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a three-day retreat held in Lagos for members of the State’s Executive Council and legislators from the state.

“Private investments towards accelerating growth in the Tourism and Hospitality sector for sustainable job creation and increased revenue generation would also be encouraged.  Aggressive priority to integrated transportation system and sustainable solid waste management system by overhauling and re-branding the sectors in collaboration with the private sector,’’ it said.

On the health sector, it resolved to fast-track the implementation of the recently passed Lagos State Health Insurance Law to provide the necessary financial resources for development of health infrastructure.

The communiqué said that with the health infrastructure, government could as well as promote medical tourism in the State.

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Kaduna Proposes N189.9bn 2017 Budget

The Kaduna State Executive Council has approved the draft estimates of the 2017 Budget. At its meeting on Thursday, 6th October 2016, the Council further directed that the N189.9bn draft budget be submitted for public debate at a special town hall meeting, whose recommendations would be factored in before the amended draft budget is presented to the Kaduna State House of Assembly.

The Budget Town Hall Meeting is scheduled for Saturday, 8 October 2016, following which the governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, will present the draft estimates to the state legislature on Wednesday, 12 October 2016. In a first for the state, the draft 2016 budget estimates were discussed at a town hall meeting prior to presentation to the state’s lawmakers. That public consultation led to the inclusion of additional capital projects worth more than N2bn into the budget, including the Birnin-Gwari dam. The Kaduna State Government has decided to institutionalise citizen participation in the budget process.

At the Town Hall meeting, the basic thrust of the proposed N189.9bn draft 2017 budget will be explained to provide context and elicit inputs. The draft 2017 budget recognises that these tough times, with severe revenue challenges and economic contraction, require that government spending on key social sectors should expand. In addition, the determined efforts to attract private investments compel a sustained focus on improving infrastructure and the ease of doing business..

Tagged as the Budget of Jobs, Social Justice, and Prosperity, the draft 2017 budget gives priority allocation to capital projects. In line with the manifesto commitments made during the elections, Education, Health, Infrastructure (water, roads and transport), Agriculture and Rural Development are the sectors with the biggest capital allocations.

Muhammad Sani Abdullahi, the Commissioner of Budget and Planning, said that “the executive has a responsibility for early preparation and submission of the budget to give the legislature ample time to deliberate on it”. The draft 2016 budget was submitted to the lawmakers on 1st December 2015, and was signed into law on 22nd December 2015.

The State Executive Council looks forward to the passage of the 2017 budget to enable the state government to begin implementing the 2017 appropriation for the people of Kaduna by 1st January 2017.

The draft 2017 Budget is based on Zero-Based-Budgeting principles tailored towards actualising the objectives of the Kaduna State Development Plan (SDP) 2016-2020.

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Budget Padding: EFCC Interrogate Top Officials Of 16 Ministries

The alleged padding of the 2016 budget has gotten the attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as the anti-graft body has reportedly commenced investigations into the role played by some officials of govt in the matter.

The EFCC is said to have interrogated the directors of finance and account of 16 federal ministries and has also retrieved the ministries’ original copies of their budget proposals from 2012 to 2016 and as well as the versions approved by the National Assembly.

The EFCC has uncovered many projects inserted in the budget in the last four years and probing whether they were executed.

The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the EFCC have started collaborating to unravel the identities of the companies executing padded projects.

The commission was said to be in the process of inviting the affected contractors.

It was also learnt that the commission had already questioned a former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, who blew the whistle, and those who wrote petition against Jibrin on budget padding.

About 184 civil servants were indicted in the padding of the 2016 budget, 22 of whom are top officials who have been dismissed.

The extension of the scope of the budget padding to four years might lead to the arrest of more top civil servants.

According to a top source, the investigation into budget padding by EFCC “appeared to have gathered momentum.”

The source said: “The EFCC has questioned directors of finance and account of 16 Federal Ministries in connection with the matter. The top officials were invited and questioned after the Commission had received and analyzed original proposals from the ministries and the appropriation from the National Assembly between 2012 and 2016.

”There are allegations and counter allegations and the Commission is looking at all of them.”

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Budget Padding: FG Disciplines 184 Civil Servants, 22 Top Officials Dismissed

A total of 184 civil servants were disciplined for their different roles in the padding of the 2016 budget.

This was contained in Buhari’s authorised biography, ‘Muhammadu Buhari: The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria’, written by Prof. John Paden and presented to the public on Monday.

Of the 184, Paden said 22 top officials were dismissed from service.

He said the President viewed the padding as an attempt to scuttle his administration’s innovations, hence his decision to wield the big stick against the culprits.

The author wrote, “Buhari himself was frustrated by earlier padding of the budget by bureaucrats in some of the ministries.

“This was interpreted by the Buhari team as an attempt to scuttle the innovations proposed by the President by inflating their costs.

“When Buhari found out, he was reported to be angry and ordered a purge of the ministries involved from the Director-General down.

“Twenty-two top officials were dismissed, including the budget director. In all, 184 civil servants were disciplined.”

He added that even after the budget had been adjusted downward by the National Assembly, the country would still have to borrow $3.5bn, as a result of the drop in oil prices.

In February, Buhari had while addressing the Nigerian community in Saudi Arabia, vowed that all those involved in the padding of the 2016 national budget, which led to the discrepancies in the document, would face severe punishment.

He had said the alterations, which he described as embarrassing and disappointing, made the document, being debated in the National Assembly at that time, completely different from what was prepared by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.

Describing those responsible for the distortion of the budget proposals as entrenched interests, the President had said since he had been holding public offices, he had never heard about budget padding before the incident.

Buhari had added, “The culprits will not go unpunished. I have been a military governor, petroleum minister, military Head of State and headed the Petroleum Trust Fund.

“Never had I heard the words budget padding. Our Minister of Budget and National Planning did a great job with his team.

“The minister became almost half his size during the time, working night and day to get the budget ready, only for some people to pad it.

“What he gave us was not what was finally being debated. It is very embarrassing and disappointing. We will not allow those who did it to go unpunished.”

Reaffirming his government’s zero tolerance for corruption, Buhari said the war against corruption was a monumental task that he was determined to tackle successfully.

Punch

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Buhari Sends 3-year Spending Plan To NASS, Plans N6.812tn Budget For 2017

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday sent the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), ahead of the 2017 budget, to the National Assembly.
A letter accompanying the document was read by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, at plenary.
The letter said that the document would provide the framework for the development of 2017 budget which the government estimated to be N6.812tn.
The proposed N6.812tn 2017 budget is about 13.3 per cent or N806bn above the N6.06tn budgeted for 2016.
It said that MTEF and FSP were designed against the backdrop of an adverse global economic environment.
In the letter, Mr. Buhari said, “the MTEF and FSP, which would provide the framework for the development of the 2017 budget, were designed against the backdrop of a generally adverse global economic environment.
“It is also to address fiscal challenges in the domestic economy.
“In this regard, the 2017-2019 MTEF and FSP articulates the Federal Government’s economic, social and developmental objectives as well as the strategies for achieving these defined objectives and priorities.
“I hereby forward the 2017-2019 MTEF and FSP to the House of Representatives and trust that it would be kindly considered and expeditiously approved so as to move the 2017 federal budget preparation process forward.”
He explained that he was complying with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, adding that his action meant that the details of the 2017 budget would soon be laid before the legislature.
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Tambuwal Denies Receiving N1bn To Help Pad Amnesty Budget

Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal has denied news report of receiving some illegal funds to help in the padding of the Amnesty Office budhet.
SaharaReporters had reported that Tambuwal, helped a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chibudom Nwuche, to receive N1bn from the Amnesty Office.
But Tanbuwal, in a statement by his spokesman, Imam Imam described the story, as it relates to Tambuwal, as false, mischievous, and without basis.
“For the records, Tambuwal has never engaged in legislative, political, administrative or business relationship with the persons alleged in the story.”
“Nwuche left the House of Representatives in 2003, the same year Tambuwal was elected into the National Assembly to represent Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency in the House.”
“He was not in the House of Representatives when Nwuche was in the House.”
“The history of the frosty relationship between then Speaker Tambuwal and elements close to former President Goodluck Jonathan (which both Nwuche and Kingsley Kuku were prominent members), is well known to Nigerians.”
“Speaker Tambuwal could not have had dealings with people who considered him antagonistic to the aspiration of their benefactor (Jonathan).”
“There is no iota of truth in the story as it relates to Governor Tambuwal.”
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Budget Padding: Reps Plot Suspension Of Jibrin As Police Summons Dogara, Others

As the House of Representatives resumes next week, the leadership of the lower legislative chamber is poised to send the sacked chairman of the House of Representatives committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, on suspension.

Jibrin had all through the the recess of the House which began in July spilled beans on alleged padding of the 2016 budget with fictitious projects running to over N284b.

He also claimed that most members of the House diverted N10b in running cost that was not part of their salaries over the years.

Those indicted by Jibrin included the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Lasun Yussuff; the Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.

They have all dismissed the allegations as baseless and are believed to be pressing for sanction against him.

But just as the House leadership is plotting his suspension, the Special Investigation Panel probing the budget padding allegations will send fresh invitations to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and other principal officers named in the scandal.

Jubril is however making frantic efforts to woo more members to his side as the prepares to resume.

Jibrin wrote a 17-page letter to every member of the House on why Speaker Dogara should be asked to step down.

This, according to him, will pave the way for a comprehensive and unhindered investigation of the allegations of budget padding.

He also asked for a comprehensive review of the House rules which he said Dogara has manipulated by inserting draconian laws.

He said: “The truth of the matter is that I stood against corruption. I stood against budget fraud. The Speaker and the three principal officers saw me as a stumbling block to a free flow of corruption and budget fraud. They desperately wanted me out.

“That is why despite the fact that I told him of my decision to resign, from his pronouncement, he had wished he fired me. I have stated repeatedly that I did nothing wrong in the 2016 budget, I did not abuse my office or corruptly enrich myself in the five years I have been in the House. I have stated repeatedly that anybody that has an allegation against me in that regard should feel free and bring it up.

“The pronouncement of my questionable “sack” on the floor was immediately followed by a heavy campaign of calumny in the media spreading falsehood against my person and family sponsored by Speaker Dogara and in several instances using the House spokesperson and later his spokesman until some patriotic members called the House spokesperson to order.

“But that was a joke compared to what followed after the close of session on Thursday, July 21, 2016. The plan is to execute my “sack” just before the recess so that by the time we return I would have been buried and the issue forgotten. I promised Mr. Speaker on July 21st that this issue will never be swept under the carpet.”

However, a National Assembly source, who pleaded anonymity, said Jibrin is in for a ‘rude shock’ when the House resumes.

According to her, contrary to what the embattled lawmaker believes that he has the support of majority of his colleagues in his drive to expose corruption in the House, Jibrin would end up being alone at the end.

She said: “I want to assure you that by the time the House resumes on Tuesday, Jibrin will look behind and find out that he is alone.

“Yes, he might think that this false anti-corruption garb he is now wearing is going to endear him to Nigerians, but he will be shocked by the time he discovers that no one would take him serious any longer, when all the facts about him are laid on the table.

“This is because Nigerians are not gullible to the extent that they won’t ask why did he not make noise about corruption in the House since the last Assembly when he was privileged to chair an important committee like Finance.

“That aside, the leadership will not allow one individual to bring down the House just because he is aggrieved for being removed as a Committee chairman.

“The strategy is to ensure that he is left with no opportunity to embarrass the Speaker and the entire House.

“In my view, the best way to ensure this is to suspend him and I think that is what is going to happen, except for a last minute change.

“We have heard from the grapevine that his intention is to constitute himself into a nuisance from the first day thereby causing commotion on the floor.

“Being an attention seeker, he is well aware that the cameras would always zoom on him while in the Chamber, so he is going to maximise that by suspension as House resumes raising all kinds of point of order.

“We are not going to allow that to happen because he is just an individual that wants to bring the entire House down with him.

“I can assure you that the letter he wrote to members was just self seeking. Whatever he wanted the letter to achieve has failed because he has also brought the entire members into the fray by accusing them of diverting the running cost.

“At any rate, why would he need to write every member if his fight was sincere in the first place?

“In a situation like this, your action is all that is needed to garner support on your side if you are fighting a just cause, it is supposed to be spontaneous.

“But in his case, he is just struggling to win the support of his colleagues that he has rubbished before Nigerians. That cannot work.

“There is no anxiety, we have also perfected our plans but ours is dependent on how he conducts himself.”

However, a member of Integrity Group said they were still studying the content of Jibrin’s letter.

He said the issues raised by Jibrin were serious enough to be investigated by external bodies but would not want the House to lose its integrity with Nigerians.

“We are not going to rush into what the Jibrin’s letter is asking of us. We are studying the situation and will only do what is right for this institution.

“If you recall, we made it clear before Jibrin’s removal that the Speaker should allow us question the wisdom behind Jibrin’s behaviour over the budget but we were turned down.

“Now that the story has changed, no one should be of the opinion that we are behind or sponsoring Jibrin, all we are doing is to get things right.

“Jibrin cannot tell us what to do, we know what is good for us and what is good for this institution,” he said.

On the invitation of Dogara and other principal members of the House, It was learnt that the special probe panel, headed by a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Ali Amodu, would send the invitations when the National Assembly resume this week.

Police sources stated that the SIP had covered a lot of ground in its quest to unearth the culprits behind the alleged padding of N280bn in the 2016 budget.

According to a source, “the fact is that the house officers, including the speaker, have no immunity against investigation or prosecution; anybody could be investigated including governors and the President.@

“The immunity of the governors and the President does not preclude investigation. It only protects them while in office, but once they are out of office, they could be prosecuted.

“The panel has covered a lot of ground with the documents at its disposal, and it will invite the men (lawmakers) when they are ready to interrogate them and anyone who fails to show up has tacitly admitted that he is guilty of the allegations against him.”

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FG Proposes N6.5 Trillion Budget For 2017

The Federal Government is proposing the sum of N6.5 trillion for the 2017 fiscal year, according to a report by Voice of Nigeria.

This was contained in a budget call circular issued by the office of the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

The circular noted that the budget proposal was in accordance with the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.

It said the aggregate Federal Government retained revenue for the 2017 fiscal year was projected at N4.1 billion, while the aggregate expenditure level was projected to be N6.9 billion.

“This aggregate expenditure is made up of statutory transfers of N370.7 billion, Debt Service of N1.63 billion, Recurrent (non-debt) expenditure of N2.56 billion and Capital expenditure of N1.76 billion,” the circular read.

“The N1.63 billion in respect of Debt Service is made up of N1.47 billion for domestic debt; N159.6 billion for foreign debt and N177.4 billion for sinking fund to retire maturing loans.”

It said the capital expenditure would be guided strictly by the justification and critical nature of such programmes and budgets.

It also said the N1.76 billion set aside for critical capital expenditure includes N150 billion for Special Intervention Programme, N200 billion for Capital Supplementation and N1.41 billion for MDAs capital expenditure

“Additionally, the Federal Government intends to incur recurrent expenditure of N350 billion on the Special Intervention Programmes, bringing the total to N500 billion,” it said.

The document also directed all MDAs to prepare the budget based on the 2017-2019 MTEF.

According to the circular, the budget preparation should take into consideration the policies and strategies contained in the document as it outlines the development priorities of the Federal Government.

It also noted that the annual budget would continue to be prepared using the Zero-Based Budgeting approach and in line with the government’s policy thrust.

The circular discouraged the practice of regular incremental budget adjustments, each project was to be carefully scrutinised before resources were allocated and that the ZBB process places emphasis on actual needs and not wants.

It said: “Therefore, all MDAs are to carefully scrutinise and justify their projects and programmes for which resources are to be allocated in line with the immediate needs of the country and government’s development priorities.”

The priorities were grouped into six broad pillars to reflect the 26 policy priority programmes of the Government.

It listed the pillars to be economic reforms/growth, social development, critical infrastructure, states/regional development, governance, security and environment.

The Federal Executive Council on August 24 approved the 2017-2019 MTEF and FSP.

The budget call circular is in line with the 2017 budget preparation calendar signalling the commencement of MDAs’ preparation of their 2017 budgets.

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Budget Padding: Why Dogara, Others Are After Me – Jibrin

Ex-Chairman, House of Representatives’ Appropriation Committee  Abdulmumin Jibrin yesterday explained why the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, and other principal officers sought his expulsion.

Jibrin said he attracted the wrath of the leadership when, as chair of the Appropriation Committee, he rejected alleged proposals by Dogara and others to corner about N90 billion to themselves from the 2016 budget.

He made the claim in a fresh document at the Federal High Court, Abuja, in furtherance of his suit, seeking to, among others, restrain the House from suspending him.

Defendants are the House of Representatives; Clerk of the House; Dogara; Yusuf Lasun, Dogara’s deputy; Alhassan Ado Doguwa; Leo Ogor; Herman Hembe; Umar Mohammed Bago; Zakari Mohammed; Chike Okafor; Dan Asuquo; Jagaba Adams; Haliru Jika and Uzoma Abonta.

In the document filed yesterday, Jibrin, an All Progressives Congress (APC) legislator, representing Kiru/Bebeji in Kano State, said he had conflicts with the House leadership because he rejected their unlawful directives.

He said in the document – a counter-affidavit – deposed to on his behalf by his lawyer, Nura Abdulrrahman, that one of such instances was his “refusal to admit into the budget about N30 billion.

“His refusal to cover up the decision of the third to fourteenth defendants’ (Dogara and others’) unilateral decision to allocate to themselves N40 billion of the N100 billion allocated to the National Assembly, in addition to what he (Jibrin) considered as wasteful projects of over N20 billion to the third to fourteenth defendants’ constituencies.

“Even when he (Jibrin) had given the defendants/respondents, especially the third (Dogara) statistics of 2,000 new projects introduced into the Appropriation Bill by less than 10 committee members, the third defendant took no decision or corrective.

“When the inflation of the budget became a matter of public interest and controversy, the defendant, especially the third to fourteenth, started taking measures to avoid responsibility and to place the issue on the shoulders of the plaintiff to use him (Jibrin) as a scapegoat,” Abdulrrahman said.

Jibrin denied claims by Dogara that he (the plaintiff) was removed as chair of the Appropriation Committee, saying he resigned, and informed Dogara on July 20, 2016.

Against the defendants’ claim that they were not planning to suspend Jibrin, and that the House did not intend to reconvene before the end of its vacation, Jibrin said Dogara and others were plotting to reopen the House and suspend him.

He urged the court to proceed to determine his case and grant his reliefs, including a declaration that the defendants’ decision at a meeting of August 3, 2016, to suspend the plaintiff without a fair hearing is unlawful.

Jibrin also seeks a declaration that the defendants should  comply with sections 49, 54, 56 and 60 of the 199 Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House, regulating its sitting, procedure and other matters.

Dogara and others have, in the notice of preliminary objection filed on Tuesday, urged the court to decline jurisdiction to hear the case and strike it out on the grounds that the suit showed “no reasonable cause of action.”

Clerk of the Appropriation Committee Dr. Abel Ochigbo faulted Jibrin’s claims, saying  there was no plan to suspend him and that no meeting was held to that effect.

Ochigbo, who deposed to the affidavit supporting the defendants’ objection, said all that was done in the process leading to passage of the budget was within the law.

He added that since the budget has become law, nobody could query steps taken by the lawmakers.

“The 2016 Appropriation Act was duly passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President. The issue of any officer of the House taking any decisive action against any particular member or members does not arise as the Appropriation Bill has now become the Appropriation Act’’.

“The issue of inflation of the 2016 budget does not arise as the Appropriation Bill was passed by the House of Representatives pursuant to powers vested in the House by the Constitution and in line with the Standing Orders of the House.

“The Bill was duly certified pursuant to the provisions of the Acts Authentication Act before it was duly assented to by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and it is now being executed as an Act of the National Assembly.”

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FG Commences Preparation Of 2017 Budget, Approves 2017-2019 MTEF

Ahead of preparation of the 2017 budget, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategic Paper (FSP) 2017 to 2019.

Briefing state House correspondents at post-Cabinet meeting, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo-Udoma, said the 2017 budget will be anchored on assumptions of $42.5 per barrel and 2.2 million barrel per day production of crude oil.

According to him, there were wide consultations with stakeholders, including state governors and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) before the consideration and final FEC approval.

Udoma spoke further, “As you know, the Fiscal Responsibility Act requires the executive to prepare the MTEF and send it to the National Assembly for consideration.

“And it is on the basis of the MTEF that the next budget will be fashioned. So, in short, we have started the process of preparing the 2017 budget.

“Let me share with you some of the key parameters and assumptions which will be underpinning the 2017-2019 MTEF.

“Oil price benchmark: We intend to use 42.50 dollars as reference price in 2017. We are projecting 45 dollars in 2018 and 50 dollars in 2019.

‘So, we are keeping to the very conservative in terms of the reference price of crude oil, even though we are expecting it to go higher than this. But, we are keeping to an extremely conservative price scenario.

“In terms of oil production, we are keeping to the same level of this year for 2017 and that is 2.2 million barrels per day.

“For 2018, 2.3 million barrels per day and for 2019, 2.4 million barrels per day. In terms of growth rate, we are targeting three per cent growth rate in 2017 and 4.26 per cent growth rate in 2018 and a 4.04 per cent growth rate in 2019.

“Before the MTEF was presented to FEC for consideration, there was extensive consultation with the private sector, governors and NGOs.

“We intend to intensify effort to diversify the economy, we intend to go on with the implementation of ongoing reforms in public finance, we intend to enhance the environment for ease of business so as to generate private sector and private investment.

“We also intend to continue to pursue gender sensitive, pro-poor and inclusive social intervention schemes similar to what we did in 2016, our social intervention programmes are going to be sustained.”
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