By Henry Umoru & Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA—AFTER months of consideration, the House of Representatives yesterday approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, for 2018 fiscal year.
This is even as the 2018 budget passed second reading in both the Senate and House of Representatives.
It will be recalled that President Muhamamdu Buhari on November 7, 2017, laid the budget proposal with a revenue profile of N8.612 trillion before the National Assembly.
By this, the document is expected to be committed to the Standing Committees of the House for continuous legislative action.
Recall also that the members of the House started debate on the general principles of the budget last Tuesday without the passage of the MTEF.
But the Deputy Speaker, Yusuf, Lasun who presided over the plenary at the time had explained to the members that the commencement of debate on the budget estimate did not automatically translate to its passage.
He said the House would definitely pass the MTEF before adopting the appropriation bill.
“My hands are tied on this but I will just crave the indulgence of colleagues to go on with the debate. The debate is not tantamount to passing the budget. I will crave the indulgence of the house to go on with the debate,” Lasun had said.
Concluding the debate yesterday, the House unanimously passed the bill into second reading.
Similarly, there was no dissension to the adoption of the MTEF.
The motion, when moved by the coordinator of the Committees on Finance, Appropriations, Aids,Loans and Debt Management, Legislative Budget and Research and National Planning and Economic Development, Babangida Ibrahim, prompted the House to dissolve into the committee of the whole.
In adopting the Framework, the members retained the proposed production of 2.3 million barrels per day by the executive arm of government.
They, however, moved the benchmark from $45 to $47 per barrel for 2018 fiscal year.
The recommendations read thus: “That 2.3 million barrels per day be retained as proposed by the Executive for the 2018 Budget;
“That $47 per barrel as the benchmark for the fiscal year 2018 be adopted. This is in consideration of the current positive outlook in the global oil market and expectation that OPEC and other allied oil partnership countries will sustain oil production “cuts deep” into 2018;
“That 305/US Dollar as proposed by the executive for the 2018 Budget be adopted. It is also advised that CBN should adopt measures to close the gap between the parallel market and the official exchange rate;
“That the projected at 5.279 trillion for non-oil revenue in 2018 be adopted.
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday passed for second reading, the 2018 Appropriation Bill, just as it has been forwarded to the Committee on Appropriations and its various sub-committees for further consideration and budget defence by ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, of the Federal Government.
This followed the conclusion of a week long debate on the general principles of the bill, senators at plenary, which started last Tuesday, last week.
Of the N8.6 trillion for the 2018 budget estimates, N456 billion is for statutory transfer and N2 trillion for debt service.
N3 trillion is for recurrent-non-debt expenditure, while N2 trillion is for contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure for the year ending Dec. 31, 2018.
Meanwhile, the Senate has adjourned plenary for two weeks, which would end December 19, to enable the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, commence the defence of their budget proposals.
The Senate also fixed a public hearing on the budget for Monday, December 11, with all the senators being in attendance.
Speaking on the passage of the second reading of the budget, president of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, said: “We know that the timetable is very tight; we will be suspending plenary for us to be able to start the defence of this budget.
‘’Committee chairmen and members should please ensure that we keep to this timetable. Let me respond with a general note of warning to all heads of MDAs to ensure that they strictly respect the letters of invitation and the timetable.
‘’This is not time for excuses for ministers or heads of parastatals to be traveling and not to attend their budget defence.
“We do not have the time. This is a very short time frame, therefore, I expect all MDAs to be able to respect our invitation and be there on time so that the committees can wrap up and be able to present their reports by the time we come back on Tuesday, December 19.”
Source: Vanguard News